BLIND SPOT: Bureau of Filipino Customs

August 10, 2017

 

Customs - taxes or fees that are paid to the government when goods come into or go out of a country.  Customs could also mean actions or behavior that are usual and traditional among the people in a particular group or place.  (https://www.merriam-webster.com)

The Bureau of Customs under Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon has been in the limelight lately.  (This is the same Faeldon who wanted to go to Scarborough Shoal to singlehandedly a la superhero slug it out with the Chinese, and a comrade of Sen. Trillanes in the failed Oakwood Mutiny.  I wonder what these mistahs talk about when they bump into each other, now that they’re on opposite sides of the battle lines.)What’s all the hoopla about?  I say, the Bureau of Customs is merely representing Filipino customs.  Let’s talk about what’s been going on lately.  “The Bureau of Customs on, May 26, seized 604 kilograms of methamphetamine chloride, valued at P6.4 billion, in two warehouses in Valenzuela City.“ (www.rappler.com)  As a reaction to this oversight, BOC risk management officer Larribert Hilario was immediately suspended by Commissioner Faeldon citing neglect of duty  as a strong basis, without requesting explanation from the officer, and unable to give specific information on the sources of Hilario’s responsibility; as he revealed in one Congressional inquiry chaired by Representative Rodolfo Fariñas.  (newsinfo.inquirer.net)  private broker Mark Taguba revealed a list of allegedly corrupt, bribe accepting BOC officers.  (newsinfo.inquirer.net)  As a response,  Faeldon fires back at the congressmen, “If you push me to the wall, I will tell the whole world what you have been doing” (www.philstar.com)

Okay, we don’t really know how a massive amount of meth got past Filipino customs officers.  According to Suspended Risk Manager Hilario, “As part of the BOC’s selectivity system, products imported into the country pass through four lanes, depending on the risk level: super-green, green, yellow and red.” “The kitchenware shipment… which turned out to contain shabu, went through the green lane because of the lack of parameters that would signal the need for stricter inspection.”  (newsinfo.inquirer.net); or at least that’s one way of putting it.  But then again, this isn’t the first time, a huge amount of abused substance gets through Filipino border patrol.  In fact, isn’t this all too common already, which would make it “an action or behavior that is usual and traditional” – a custom, a Filipino custom.  

Let us look at another custom.  Something goes wrong.  Bureau head blames subordinate, politicians blames bureau head; bureau head tells politicians, “You’re not too clean yourselves”.  Now, is this not a usual scene of a Filipino drama.  “Blaming” is included in  “14 Bad Habits that Filipinos should Break to Achieve Progress” by Joan Cyril Abello (faq.ph)  In Filipino customs, you won’t expect someone say, “the buck stops here”.  So, this is usual; thus a custom, a Filipino custom.  

Now, here’s something interesting.  The bureau has hired celebrity former PBA athletes as intelligence officers.  A BOC officer has acclaimed their employment into the bureau; citing that it has increased the agency’s social media following by the thousands.  Does customs really need to upsurge Facebook friends?  Actually, the bureau did not hire just PBA athletes, some celebrity female volleyball athletes were also on the payroll.  According to Faeldon, they needed the players to “change this perception (of corruption) by convincing the public and encouraging our employees to help reform the agency”.  Oh, so, it’s all public image.  What’s surprising is that the Filipino public was surprised.  Don’t we already have Aiza Seguerra, Liza Diño and Mocha Uson in government service?  We have also had Dingdong Dantes, Boy Abunda, Kris Aquino.  I was listening to this female BOC officer being interviewed on a TV news program; and I was thinking, the representatives may question legalities and validities but she’s got a point there.  All of a sudden, Internet surfers would want to follow the Customs site because they could see Duremdes or Marlou Aquino or EJ Fiehl there.  They were also credited for improving camaraderie among the agency’s employees.  Whoa, nice!  I have to give credit.  Putting aside procedures and legal arguments, it could really be considered as an ingenious idea; something out of the box.  This is considering that the Filipino audience are strong enthusiasts or suckers (in which way you would want to see it) for celebrities and mass media personalities.  A boring  bureau would really be all too appealing when a celebrity is around.  Biglang nagkakagulo pag may artista.  In another manifestation, performance is based on personality, not on policy.  Is this not a usual or traditional action or behavior among Filipinos – a custom, a Filipino custom.  

Let’s add some more.  In the heat of the pressure, Faeldon fires back at the Lower House lawmakers, the Speaker of the House especially, exposing that he and apparently other congressmen have been pressing him to employ or promote their favored pets to the bureau. Wow! We’re really getting to have a collection of Filipino customs here. Powerful individual uses his influence to pressure an official to favor a family member, a friend, a college batchmate.  Is this not usual?  Would not this be considered a custom, a Filipino custom?

Since,  customs are usual and traditional actions and behavior among a people.  Would it be possible that these same customs would also be usual and traditional in other bureaus or barangays?

“Do not conform to the patterns of this world; but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”

Romans 12:2

 

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