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Customs chief Sevilla favors COA to ‘transparency officer’ in checking bureau funds

President Benigno S. Aquino III graces the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals

President Benigno S. Aquino III graces the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Newly sworn-in Customs chief John Philip Sevilla prefers to have the Commission on Audit or a private auditor to examine how the bureau spends its money instead of having a transparency officer from within the agency.

In a Senate hearing on measures to reform the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Sevilla thumbed down a proposal from Senator Jinggoy Estrada for a deputy commissioner – appointed by the President – to oversee the auditing and ensuring transparency within the BOC.

“I am more comfortable with the audit being done by somebody outside of the bureau, rather than an internal audit department inside the bureau,” Sevilla told the Senate ways and means committee Tuesday.

Estrada called for a BOC transparency official in Senate Bill 741, which he filed last August.

Instead of creating a new BOC office, a legislation reforming the bureau should simply require its officials to make data as publicly accessible as possible, Sevilla said.

“It will be more efficient if we will identify a minimum amount of what data should be available, not just to an internal auditor, but to a wider audience,” Sevilla said.

The law should empower his bureau to modernize and streamline its operations, to be able to minimize human intervention, the Customs chief also said.

“We have to get to that stage, if we want to get to what the people want… We need to minimize human intervention to the absolute minimum as possible,” he said.

The BOC has long been perceived as one of the most corrupt government agencies.

In the latest Survey of Enterprises on Corruption conducted by Social Weather Stations, the bureau was the lone government agency which got a “very bad” net sincerity rating.

Last July, President Benigno Aquino III berated Customs personnel in his State of the Nation Address, blaming them for the rampant movement of illegal goods in and out of the country. (MNS)

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