Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has commended the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for performing “extremely well” in 2020 by continuing to raise better-than-expected revenues, ensuring the free flow of goods and redoubling its campaign against smuggling even with logistical restrictions and other difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the leadership of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Dominguez said the BOC was able to minimize its losses and even surpass its adjusted collection target last year despite the drastic decline in trade volumes and the economic slowdown, by pursuing its modernization initiatives to achieve a more efficient customs administration.
Along with the fuel marking program, the slew of innovative reforms instituted by the BOC allowed it to collect P539.763 billion in 2020, or 6.0 percent over its target of P506.2 billion.
“I congratulate Commissioner Leonardo Guerrero and the Customs personnel for a job very well done the past year. Let’s give them a big hand. I am impressed with how the Bureau has continuously improved its processes to serve the Filipino people. Thank you for always exceeding our expectations,” said Dominguez during the 119th anniversary celebration on Tuesday of the BOC in its main office in Manila.
To prepare the country’s rapid transition to the New Economy, Dominguez called on Guerrero to continue improving the BOC’s services and incorporating additional digital technologies in its processes.
“The more efficient the BOC becomes, the more effective the government will be in charting the course to a strong and rapid recovery beginning this year,” Dominguez said.
Besides its laudable revenue performance, Dominguez said the BOC also significantly contributed to the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring the continuous and unhampered delivery of the medical supplies and equipment urgently needed by health workers.
Dominguez said that with the BOC’s prompt release of goods despite the pandemic-induced logistical restrictions, he is certain that the bureau will be ready to facilitate the entry of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines that are arriving in the next few weeks.
“As one of the country’s frontline workers, we will ensure that our customs boarding officers are given priority when we roll out the national vaccination program,” Dominguez told the BOC.
Dominguez also cited the BOC’s unrelenting campaign against smuggling, which resulted to last year’s seizure of an estimated P10.62 billion-worth of “hot” goods, of which over half were illicit cigarettes and tobacco products.
“This sends a clear message that this administration will fight smuggling to the very end,” Dominguez said.
Also among the confiscated items were laptops and smartphones that the BOC recently turned over to the Department of Education (DepEd) to support its blended or distance learning program.
Before the event, the BOC also destroyed 10 smuggled luxury vehicles worth a combined P45.2 million, an act that aims to prevent smugglers from circumventing the law by attempting to acquire these vehicles through the auction process, Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the COVID-19 crisis disrupted the Philippines’ growth momentum and exacted a massive toll on the economy, but the BOC, along with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), stepped up to the challenge of raising substantial revenues to help fund the government’s pandemic response measures and economic recovery program.
“President Duterte has said that taxes are the lifeblood of government programs and public services. In this critical time, when our national endurance was tested, our revenue agencies especially the Bureau of Customs, kept our lifeblood flowing,” Dominguez said.
“The whole nation relies on the men and women of the BOC. All of you are in the frontline of our effort to build back the best possible future for the Filipino people. I trust that everyone will do their job to the greatest of their ability to achieve this goal,” Dominguez said.