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Pres Duterte temporarily puts Bureau of Customs under military control

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Duterte temporarily puts Bureau of Customs under military control

All Customs employees to report directly to Malacañang

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has put the Bureau of Customs (BOC) under the control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The President said he will ask the AFP to temporarily take over the BOC.

"They will be replaced, all of them, by military men. It will be a takeover of the Armed Forces in the matter of operating, in the meantime, while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country," Duterte said.

"With these kinds of games they are playing, dirty games, I am forced now to ask the Armed Forces to take over," he added.

Duterte also said all of the employees of the BOC will be on floating status and will be required to report directly to the Office of the President.

"I want to put on notice everybody in the Bureau of Customs, they are all in floating status. Maybe start again working, but I said, they are all floating status," he said in a speech during the thanksgiving dinner of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in Davao City.

"The Customs intelligence unit, they are to report to Malacañang, all of them. I'm ordering everybody to report to my office. Maybe I'll issue the memorandum. They will hold office there at the Malacañang Gymnasium. Lahat," Duterte added.

According to Duterte, his decision is part of his declaration of a state of lawlessness in the country back in 2016.

"Remember I have issued, during the first days of my term, this is the declaration of lawlessness. Part of the lawless elements is there inside the Bureau of Customs," he said.

The President also said that although not everyone working for the BOC is corrupt, he has no time to sort everyone out. Instead, he decided to just remove everyone and just let them go back to the government if they are indeed innocent.

"Alam mo, baka sabihin ni Duterte, hindi naman kami lahat magnanakaw eh. Correct, so very correct. You are right. Not all of you are thieves. But you know, you must be an idiot not to understand. You say that you are honest, that you are not part of the cabal there. And so? If that is your line, I cannot move, and you stay there, and I have to speculate if you are really a gangster working for the Bureau of Customs, a government employee. I do not have the time for that," Duterte explained.

"I'd like them out, then one by one, if they still deserve. If none, then, since I cannot fire them, then I have to file a case, and then appeal after appeal, maybe it could last for another 10 years. And so by that time, we have lost so many billions, and you are destroying my country," he added.

Duterte recently transferred former Customs chief Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). He was replaced by former Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

The movement comes as Lapeña came under fire after four empty magnetic lifters suspected to have contained shabu were found in Cavite in August.

At the time the magnetic lifters were found in Cavite, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the BOC had just intercepted 500 kilograms of shabu concealed in two other magnetic lifters at the Manila International Container Port, raising suspicion that those found empty in Cavite had also contained shabu.

Lapeña initially belied PDEA's allegation then recently backtracked.


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    Duterte denies ordering military to take over BOC employees' posts

    President Rodrigo Duterte says he has issued no designation or appointment of an active-duty soldier to a post in the Bureau of Customs

    MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he didn't order the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take over the functions of Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel.

    By "takeover" of the military, he had meant that heads of offices and sections within the bureau would be placed on floating status and the military called in to merely assist them, he said during his "lecture on militarization and drugs" on Tuesday, November 6 in Malacañang.

    "When I called in the Army, the Bureau of Customs, there was no designation, there was no appointment and there was never an instruction for them to take over the functions of the employees," he said.

    "What I did is just to really order them on floating status, but that was a particular order directed for chiefs of offices and section chiefs. Their assistants will still work," Duterte clarified.

    Last October 28, Duterte had said at the birthday of former foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano: "It will be a takeover of the Armed Forces in the matter of operating, in the meantime, while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country."

    On Tuesday, he said he only needed soldiers to help BOC staff with critical work like scanning shipments. He wanted the AFP to put together its soldiers who had experience on such work.

    He repeated his claim that drugs slipped past former customs chief Isidro Lapeña, adding that "there is no law and order" in the BOC.

    Duterte's remarks come after he was criticized by lawmakers and civil society groups for flouting the 1987 Constitution which bars active-duty military personnel from being designated to civilian posts "in any capacity" and at any time.

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had then said that AFP personnel would merely be detailed or seconded temporarily, and not appointed or designated.

    In his Monday remarks, Duterte again railed against law enforcers involved in illegal drug trafficking, even encouraging police personnel to shoot a superior of theirs dipping their fingers into the illegal trade.

    "I'm going to reward that policeman, any policeman who will kill his superior because the superior is into drugs. I will give you a prize, a trip to Hong Kong," said the President.

    Duterte has previously threatened to shoot human rights advocates and murder criminals and drug addicts by the thousands

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