Sol­diers at the BOC

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORY! -

THIS is not to ques­tion the wis­dom of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s di­rec­tive for the mil­i­tary to de­ploy its per­son­nel to the Bureau of Cus­toms (BOC) for law en­force­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. Af­ter all, not be­ing a lawyer, I can only sub­mit to the state­ment of Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo that, “Time and again, the Pres­i­dent as­sures ev­ery­one that, as a lawyer, he knows the lim­its of the power and au­thor­ity of his of­fice.”

Early on, Mala­cañang saw it fit to de­clare a state of law­less­ness at the BOC fol­low­ing the seem­ingly un­de­tected ship­ment of il­le­gal drugs (shabu) worth bil­lions of pe­sos dur­ing the in­cum­bency of the re­cently ousted com­mis­sioner Isidro Lapeña, and even dur­ing the time of his pre­de­ces­sor, Ni­canor Fael­don.

Ob­vi­ously, what is hap­pen­ing at the BOC can be con­sid­ered as a crime com­mit­ted against hu­man­ity, which can also be in­ter­preted in the same vein as in­va­sion or re­bel­lion and the only way to quell it is by the use of mil­i­tary force, which is a con­sti­tu­tional man­date of a pres­i­dent.

What I am ques­tion­ing, how­ever, is the ef­fi­cacy of such an or­der.

It is not as if no mil­i­tary of­fi­cer was as­signed to the BOC be­fore. In fact this is one gov­ern­ment agency where, be­cause of its no­to­ri­ety as haven for ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, re­tired mil­i­tary lead­ers are im­me­di­ately con­sid­ered to head it on the pre­text that their train­ing, rank, as­sign­ment or po­si­tion while in the ac­tive ser­vice would be able to in­still dis­ci­pline and change the de­spi­ca­ble cor­rupt cul­ture of the in­come-gen­er­at­ing agency.

Alas, time and again the once highly re­spected gen­tle­man and of­fi­cers of the mil­i­tary fell short of their man­date to cleanse the agency of un­scrupu­lous in­di­vid­u­als. They be­came in­stead will­ing par­tic­i­pants in the run­ning of a rot­ten sy st em .

So why con­sider the de­ploy­ment of or­di­nary sol­diers to the BOC a ray of hope for the agency un­der a newly minted com­mis­sioner who is him­self a gen­eral of the Armed Forces?

I un­der­stand it is a tac­ti­cal ap­proach not only to make the bu­reau­cracy change its no­to­ri­ously cor­rupt prac­tices but also to ef­fect a turn­around in the neg­a­tive per­cep­tion of the peo­ple about the agency. It’s an ap­proach in­tended to stir a “shock and awe” feel­ing in the bu­reau­cracy. But who are they kid­ding?

What­ever and how­ever one de­scribes the crime syn­di­cate in­side the bureau that is smug­gling il­le­gal drugs with im­punity and cre­at­ing havoc in our so­ci­ety, the fact re­mains that it can­not eas­ily be in­tim­i­dated and, there­fore, no sol­dier and weaponry de­ployed top the agency could ever bring down the mon­ster that it has be­come all these years.

This is not to be­lit­tle our sol­diers, but this is not the kind of con­fronta­tion they have been trained to meet. So let us save them from em­bar­rass­ment as they will surely fail. With­out strong psy­cho­log­i­cal pre­pared­ness in bat­tling cor­rup­tion, peo­ple can eas­ily suc­cumb to temp­ta­tion.

Hope­fully, Duterte would con­sider Sen. Pan­filo Lac­son’s sug­ges­tion, which is to have a so­phis­ti­cated counter-in­tel­li­gence mech­a­nism in the BOC. This is not about force but rather of hav­ing su­pe­rior in­tel­li­gence un­der a com­pe­tent and ex­em­plary head. (Je­sus Siev­ert)

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