Monday, August 20, 2007

Customs' destruction of luxury vehicles illogical

Good public relations strategies don't work well at the Bureau of Customs in Manila. After being criticized for its failure to stop graft and corruption, the customs bureau has continued to tarnish its image by doing things that are lousy and impractical. Nobody knows for what reason? But it's common knowledge that like the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the customs bureau is believed to be remiss in its task to collect the right taxes and duties levied on imported items that enter the Philippine ports.

Seriously, the BOC can be an effective revenue collector of the government. But there are instances when higher government officials dip their hands to influence the decision of the good customs commissioner and his examiners. The case of Manny Pacquiao's recent publicity stunt was an exception. After his Porsche Cayenne landed at the South Harbor in Manila, the customs bureau immediately assessed its value and required the international boxer to pay what was due the government, which he readily complied without any haggling or bargaining or name-dropping. Had it been a key government official involved, or rich businessmen who have strong connections in the higher ups, it would be a different story. And the losing end is always the government.

When these things happen and disparity in making decisions of the BOC becomes a common circus, confidence in the bureau is eroded. For example, the recent destruction of at least 10 luxury vehicles by the bureau came into light thus eliciting various criticisms from many sectors of society. Why destroy the vehicles when they could be auctioned for good reasons. The proceeds could be used for humanitarian projects to improve the lives of the less fortunate people in the midst, rather than put those vehicles to wastes? Are customs officials crazy? Or were they dictated by someone else to do such a gruesome blunder? Right now, many Filipinos subsist on a $1 a day income, which is barely enough to survive in a dog-eat-dog competition in a country that is highly mired in politics than fruitful actions that could redound to the benefits of the poor millions.

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