Mil­i­tary ap­proach

Sun.Star Baguio - - Opinion -

THERE can­not be a sin­gle ap­proach to a com­plex prob­lem. The de­ci­sion last week of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte to place the Bureau of Cus­toms (BOC) un­der mil­i­tary con­trol ap­pears to be that sin­gle ap­proach: de­fin­i­tive and strong, but untested. It also raised ques­tions on how a mil­i­tary ap­proach could de­feat a web of cor­rup­tion when three for­mer po­lice and mil­i­tary top of­fi­cials who were named BOC head failed in their sep­a­rate at­tempts.

For­mer Ma­rine cap­tain Ni­canor Fael­don was BOC chief from May 2016 un­til Au­gust 2017 when he ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion. His ap­point­ment raised hopes he could fi­nally in­sti­tute changes in an of­fice known to be the most cor­rupt in gov­ern­ment. He failed as he said he could not end cor­rup­tion in the BOC be­cause he was “work­ing alone.”

It was as BOC head that Fael­don was ques­tioned over the re­lease of 604 ki­los of shabu worth P6.4 bil­lion. Af­ter his res­ig­na­tion, Fael­don was “re­cy­cled,” a term used to de­scribe the trans­fer of re­signed of­fi­cials to other gov­ern­ment po­si­tions, to the Of­fice of Civil De­fense as a deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor and, re­cently, to the Bureau of Cor­rec­tions as direc­tor.

To take the place of Fael­don in the BOC, Duterte named Isidro Lapeña who was the for­mer head of the Davao City po­lice when Duterte was mayor, the po­lice direc­tor for op­er­a­tions be­fore he re­tired in 2017, and Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency chief. In late Oc­to­ber, Duterte an­nounced he was as­sign­ing Lapeña to the Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity af­ter a multi­bil­lion-peso drug smug­gling con­tro­versy at the Cus­toms.

Af­ter Lapeña came Rey Leonardo Guer­rero, a re­tired Philip­pine Army gen­eral, for­mer Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines, and for­mer Mar­itime In­dus­try Au­thor­ity ad­min­is­tra­tor. Guer­rero be­came the third BOC head un­der the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion. All three have po­lice or mil­i­tary back­ground.

Past pres­i­dents have also ap­pointed gen­er­als to head the BOC in the hope that mil­i­tary might or strength would counter mas­sive cor­rup­tion. Even Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III ap­pointed a re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cial to the BOC. But it is un­der Duterte that for the first time mil­i­tary per­son­nel would take over Cus­toms op­er­a­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.