Bureau of Customs stumps critics

January 01, 2019
Rey Leonardo Guerrero

Customs 2018 revenue target surpassed; incentives for employees eyed.

BUREAU of Customs (BoC) commissioner Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero has stumped the ‘naysayers’ and ‘doubting Thomases’ on his ability to meet the bureau’s assigned collection target for 2018, with a surplus collection of more than P661 million, according to official data.

Quoting from the data they submitted to the Bureau of Treasury (BtR), agency spokesman, Atty. Dino Austria, said the bureau collected P585.542 billion from its assigned target of P584.881 billion.

Austria added that 14 of their 17 collection districts showed robust revenue growth in December, despite the reduced number of workdays due to the long holiday season.

The surpassing of last year’s revenue goal also came despite the BoC registering a shortfall of more than P6.486 billion in its revenue goal for November of P56.873 billion, triggering speculation from critics of another disappointing collection year for the agency under Comm. Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero.

In terms of percentage increase over their assigned target, the top 5 collection districts are, the Port of Surigao, 73.3 percent; Port of Zamboanga, 48.6 percent; Port of Legazpi, 41.1 percent; Port of Davao, 33.3 percent; and, Port of Cagayan de Oro, 26.3 percent.

On the other hand, the 3 major ports based in Metro Manila, namely, Manila International Container Port, Ninoy Aquino International Airport and, Port of Manila, had a revenue collection shortfall against target in the amount of P15.581 billion, P5.324 billion and, P1.912 billion, respectively.

Despite this, Austria said last year’s collection saw an increase of 27.8 percent compared to the P458.183 billion actual collection in 2017.

Although satisfied with the result, Guerrero was quick divert attention away from himself by crediting the bureau’s workforce and waterfront stakeholders for immediately supporting his administration, resulting in the agency’s impressive performance on his second month in office as customs chief.

“This feat (collection surplus) is attributed to the strong collection performance of the 17 collection districts and the continuing support and cooperation of the men and women of the Bureau of Customs and of our stakeholders,” Guerrero said.

Bureau insiders however said they were impressed by Guerrero’s “sincere effort” to immediately “rescue” the bureau’s image from another drug smuggling controversy that “boosted” their morale to help him achieve his immediate goal at the agency, which is, hitting the bureau’s 2018 collection target.

“At first, we were really apprehensive with Comm. Jagger because he is from the military known for the motto, ‘obey first before you complain’ and there is the talk that he would ‘militarize’ our agency.

“However, we found out he is really sincere; he has his way of earning the trust and confidence of people,” a veteran customs collector regularly attending meetings with the customs chief confided to this writer.

In his assumption speech last October 31, Guerrero said that while the campaign against corruption in the agency would be both “decisive and unrelenting,” he considers “mutual trust” as the “basic element” necessary to move the agency forward.

“Without trust, change cannot happen; trust is the basic element in team work,” Guerrero stressed during his speech.

Guerrero also told this writer that while he would still clarify with the Department of Finance (DF), the guidelines on the distribution of bonus and incentives, he would “definitely recommend” giving incentives to bureau personnel.

“I would also not want to raise the expectation of BoC personnel but… I will definitely recommend the award of incentives for approval of Sec. (Carlos) Dominguez,” Guerrero said.