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Ayusin ang sistema! Robredo: Military takeover won’t solve corruption at Customs

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Vice President Leni Robredo is against the military “takeover” of the Bureau of Customs, a plan announced by President Rodrigo Duterte in a bid to fight corruption in the agency.

Robredo, a lawyer by profession, noted that such move would go against the Constitution, which provides that civilian authority rules in the country. She also noted that the military has its own mandate to carry out.

In a speech last week, Duterte announced that he was ordering a temporary “takeover” of the AFP at BOC, as the agency finds itself under fire over the P11-billion shabu shipment that slipped past authorities recently.

Instead of militarization, the Vice President said the administration should focus on fixing the system at BOC. She proposed the use of technology in streamlining the processes in the agency, also to minimize “face-to-face” transactions that often lead to corruption.

“Dapat talagang palitan ‘yong sistema. ‘Yong masyadong marami nang… parang face-to-face na transactions, doon nag-uumpisa ‘yong korapsyon, eh. ‘Yon, dapat sana bawasan ‘yon, o i-limit ‘yong human interaction pagdating sa Customs,” she said. “Kung i-computerize iyong halos lahat ng proseso… mababawasan talaga ‘yong korapsyon.”

“[K]ahit palitan natin nang palitan ‘yong tao, kung ‘yong sistema nandiyan, kung sistema parang ina-allow daw niya na mangyari ‘yong ganito ka-grabeng korapsyon, dapat balikan natin ‘yong sistema: ano ba ang dapat baguhin? Tingin ko ’yon ‘yong dapat pagtuunan ng pansin, hindi iyong militarization,” she added.

Robredo also reiterated her call for the administration to be serious in going after those involved in incidents involving billions-worth of shabu slipping past authorities.

“Grabe iyong buhay na isinugal na natin dahil sa paglaban natin sa drugs, pero kung ang Customs natin nagpapasok at nagpapapasok ng ganito kadami, eh ‘yon’ yong dapat nating habulin,” she said. “[D]apat bigyan talaga ng malaking… parang pag-aksayahan talaga ng panahon ‘yong paghanap nitong mga malalaki [na suppliers], kasi wala namang negosyo itong maliliit kung hindi nakakapasok dito ‘yong mga malalaki.”