Newly appointed Acting Commissioner of Customs Filemon Ruiz has vowed to “replace” district tax collectors who fail to meet their revenue targets, as he said he was ordered by the president to improve the bureau’s revenue generation.
Shortly after the handover ceremony at the Bureau of Customs last Monday, Ruiz said that this would be one of the policy directives he would carry out as the new head of the second largest tax collection agency tasked with raising 733 billion pesos this year.
“Right now, collection areas are operating at an all-time high, so why fix something that isn’t broken?” Ruiz told reporters at a press conference. “But one of the policy directives that we will be implementing is that we will give them a target monthly income. And if they failed to reach their target income, then [they should] expect to be replaced by someone who can hit the target.”
The replacement of district pickers who did not achieve their goals was also carried out under the supervision of the former chief of customs, Isidro S. Lapeña. He was later appointed by President Duterte to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in response to the 11 billion peso shabu smuggling issue.
In addition to increasing revenue, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said. also ordered him to eliminate the smuggling of drugs, weapons and agricultural products. He said that Marcos also ordered the full automation and digitalization of customs processes.
In order to curb smuggling in the country, they are considering improving some of the bureau’s processes, which he says could lead to “a dramatic increase in smuggling detection,” according to the new customs chief.
However, he declined to give details, saying that he “didn’t want to telegraph” his “strike” to the smugglers. He assured that these changes will be discussed with key employees of the department.
He also issued a stern warning to those who deviate from the agency’s goals, saying that the BOC would apply “lawful and legal punishment.”
“Pasenyahan tayo kung along the way, the Hindi magician can perform. I have to do my job. I don’t need to please anyone. I have only one person to please, and that is the president,” he said.
Before replacing Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero as head of the BOC, Ruiz led the agency’s Law Enforcement and Security Service for nearly five years from 2017, during which time he led several law enforcement projects and led operations that contributed to the bureau’s anti-smuggling campaign.
Previously, he also served as Regional Director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for seven years in various regions of the country.
“As far as I can tell, I am a Customs Bureau insider,” he said. “I have seen gaps where we need to improve, by making changes to the system or processes in these areas, we can eliminate corruption in these areas.”