February 13, 2024
Rizal Park Hotel, Manila
Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio; men and women of the Bureau of Customs; fellow workers in the government; development partners; friends from the private sector; ladies and gentlemen: magandang araw po sa inyong lahat.
First of all, I congratulate the men and women of the Bureau of Customs on their 122nd founding anniversary.
The President also sends his personal commendation to each employee of the Bureau of Customs for your diligence, determination, and excellence.
Today’s gathering is more than a commemoration of the past. It is a renewal of our commitment to meet the challenges of tomorrow. It is a rededication of our vow to uphold the public trust.
The BOC is more than the landing point of trade in our country. It is also the starting point of our nation’s progress.
For it is in the BOC that emanates the revenues that fund our nation’s dreams and secure its future.
As the second biggest revenue agency, almost 24 centavos of every revenue peso that will be raised this year will be collected by the BOC.
And for every budget peso that the government will spend this year, 20 centavos will be generated by the BOC.
Or you can view it this way, this time from the prism of expenditures.
For every 1,000 policemen who will be hired, you will be responsible for 20 percent of what will be put inside their pay envelopes.
For every 1,000 kilometers of road to be built, you will bankroll the first 200 kilometers.
For every 1,000 classrooms to be constructed, you will shoulder the cost of 200 units.
For every 1,000 cancer patients to be treated, you will pick up the tab for the chemo of 200 of them.
The bottom line is this: If all government activities under the sun carry a price tag, then 20 percent of each one of them will be paid by you.
If we fail, then it is not our fiscal position that will take a hit, but our children’s future. As any deficit will be covered by debt, many of which they will inherit.
So the BOC’s target to raise one trillion pesos this year is not a mere ledger entry to be submitted to the government.
Rather, it will fund a spreadsheet of programs, including the solutions to the problems that you yourselves encounter every day.
‘Pag nakakita kayo ng mga batang palaboy sa kalsada, ang koleksyon ng BOC ay makakatulong sa pagbabago ng kanilang buhay.
‘Pag nakadaan kayo sa kalsadang ginawa, that is your collections at work.
‘Pag natanaw niyo ang umuusbong na bagong riles ng tren, take satisfaction in the thought that you have built the fiscal rail tracks on which they will run.
More than just collecting revenues to fund public investments, the BOC is the chief facilitator of seamless trade.
The ease of doing business is what builds investment-led growth that creates more quality jobs in a land whose talents far outstrip opportunities that could harness them.
So you have to balance the necessity of red alerts with the imperative of red carpet reception of goods. What is, however, not welcome is red tape.
I say this because of the BOC’s role in safeguarding our border security.
You are our tripwire against drugs that harm our young, substandard products that are hazards to our homes, and goods that threaten our health.
A porous border punctures our coffers and creates revenue leaks.
For example, the revenue loss from 50,000 sacks of smuggled rice is 36.7 million pesos, a computation that has come from the BOC itself.
This is enough to buy 22,518 bags of fertilizer that can nurture 11.7 square kilometers of rice land.
Another example is revenue loss from 50,000 liters of gasoline. Isang tangke lang yan, hindi isang barko.
The 789,000 pesos forfeited can buy one breakfast meal for 47,045 children under the care of the DSWD.
When you drop your ball, thousands will be denied of their meals.
Thus, the success of the government’s entire socioeconomic strategy hinges on the dedicated efforts of each and every one of you, in every section, in every port.
As you embark on the huge – and heroic – mission to collect one trillion pesos this year, I must stress the importance of innovation to respond to complex challenges in a changing world.
Pursuant to the President’s orders under Bagong Pilipinas, the BOC must take the lead in our efforts to streamline processes, uphold technological excellence, and facilitate the gears of progress.
Given that the BOC is already 97 percent digitalized, the last mile challenge is to bring this up to 100 percent this year.
I, therefore, urge the BOC to expedite the implementation of an integrated system for pre-border verification and cross-border electronic invoicing to combat smuggling, misdeclaration, and undervaluation.
In addition, I encourage the BOC to continue its condemnation activities to send out a clear message to smugglers that their days of unscrupulous activities are numbered.
Meanwhile, I commend the Bureau for establishing the Customs Industry Consultative Council.
This will serve as a vital bridge between the BOC and the business sector to address all issues related to Customs and industry matters.
I trust that the Council will likewise promote the President’s call to uphold fair and efficient trade practices.
Through this council, I am confident that industry groups will actively collaborate with us in advancing reforms to enhance trade facilitation and the overall ease of doing business in the country.
On the part of the Department of Finance, we will remain a strong supporter of the BOC as it intensifies its modernization initiatives.
We are also fully behind the BOC’s ongoing efforts to uphold the integrity of its operations by eradicating corruption or inefficiency within the Bureau.
I encourage the BOC, however, to continue thinking outside the box and proposing creative solutions to further enhance services and transform the Bureau into a world-class customs agency.
The President himself has specifically emphasized that we must ensure a future where the BOC remains a symbol of trust, honesty, and efficiency—principles that will nurture a thriving economic environment and form the bedrock of every Filipino’s aspirations.
Again, I express my utmost confidence in the BOC team, under the exemplary leadership of Commissioner Rubio, happy anniversary to Commissioner Rubio on his first year of office. I trust that you will continue to exceed expectations this year and beyond.
I trust that all of us here today will deliver our best effort while steadfastly upholding the principles of professionalism, excellence, integrity, and accountability in our service to the nation.
Muli, maraming salamat po sa inyong walang sawang serbisyo para sa mga Pilipino. Mabuhay po kayong lahat. Mabuhay ang Bagong Pilipinas.