No contact policy, rewards for tipsters: BOC steps vs corruption, smuggling
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has institutionalized customer care centers and the grant of cash rewards to whistleblowers to combat pervasive graft and corruption as well as smuggling at the country’s second biggest tax-collection agency.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero this month issued two administrative orders, one of which establishes the BOC’s customer care centers in line with the zero-contact policy under the Ease of Doing Business Act.
The BOC will set up at ports their respective “modernized” customer service centers facilitating centralized document receiving and receiving, while also serving as an information area for inquiries and other concerns, as well as pass control and payment center.
These one-stop-shop facilities would “lessen face-to-face transactions between personnel of the BOC and stakeholders, therefore minimizing the opportunity for graft and corruption,” the agency said.
While promoting transparency, professionalism, integrity and accountability among BOC personnel, customer care centers will also allow prompt action on stakeholders’ concerns and queries.
The BOC will establish customer care centers in all of the country’s 17 collection districts and their sub-ports.
In another order, Dominguez and Guerrero institutionalized rewards to persons instrumental in actual collections of additional revenues, surcharges and fees upon discovering shipments violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
The BOC said the cash reward to informers and whistleblowers, equivalent to 20 percent of incremental revenues collected, applies to information furnished to the agency and apprehensions made since the CMTA took effect in 2016. “Only actual cash proceeds from the sale of smuggled and confiscated goods, or actual cash collection of additional revenues shall be the subject of reward,” it said.
The BOC said no reward will be given if the seized smuggled items were not auctioned off and instead donated, declared for the government’s official use, or re-exported. “The informer or whistleblower is also not entitled to reward if the smuggled or confiscated [products] were lost due to fortuitous event or force majeure, or the goods can no longer be subjected to seizure and/or forfeiture.”
This cash reward will be slapped with 10-percent final withholding tax, and should be claimed within one year upon approval or else shall be deemed forfeited in favor of the government, it added.
The reward system would “encourage the public by providing incentives, to extend full cooperation in eradicating smuggling and other violations of customs laws, rules and regulations,” the BOC said, as the identity of tipsters will be kept confidential “at all times.”
“Any government official or employee who maliciously reveals the identity of any informer or the affidavit of informer or whistleblower without his or her consent shall be subject to disciplinary action,” the BOC warned.
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