ROUGH CUTS| The other victims of Customs ‘taripa’

FINALLY, after close to four months since the concreting project was started on a 200-meter stretch of the Talandang-Calinan Road specifically in front of the barangay’s national high and elementary schools, cement was poured last November 4. The pouring of the concrete mix on a 3 meter 1 foot wide by about a hundred meter long portion of the project was done by a sub-contractor from around 5 in the evening to 12 midnight, or roughly seven hours only. Thus, in the morning of last Thursday passers-by were surprised to see the unexpected progress.

     We, too, were happy with the said development. We find it one indication that had the main contractor of the said project given serious attention on its implementation, the concreting of the 200-meter road could have been finished as early as during the first or second week of October.

     But as we have written in previous columns the work on the project was like a “now you see, now you don’t” case. It was apparent that there was lack of equipment, lack of materials and lack of manpower.

     And despite the sudden burst of activities, the cemented portion is not even 30 percent of the total project. But seeing it done with some degree of haste, gives the road users hope that it can be completed by early January taking into consideration the number of days required for the concrete to cure.

–ooOoo–

     What “Daang Matuwid” is the present dispensation talking about? What reduction in the level of corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is the present commissioner bragging unabashedly?

     Some months back the former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa (Ret) who has been appointed by President Aquino to a sensitive position at the Bureau used the word “taripa” to describe the money that Customs men ask from businessmen whose articles of commerce pass through the BOC.

And we believe that it is safe for anyone to assume that this “taripa” collection is not just limited in BOC offices in Manila.

     Yes, we were correct. It was only last week that we learned of “taripa” collection being done at the BOC Davao District ports and the imposition of such “taripa” is not confined to businessmen bringing in imported goods or selling products outside of the country.

     Our sources say that a “taripa” of P1,500.00 is being collected from every seaman who completes his contract from ocean going vessels and signs off or disembarks in any of the ports under the jurisdiction of the BOC Davao District.

     According to our sources, the “taripa” is demanded by these corrupt BOC personnel even if the signing-off seaman is brining or not anything from his tour of duty. Worst, these BOC people do not issue any receipt and would even threaten the seafarer with sanctions if he insists for the issuance of a receipt.

     And here is more: should by chance the signing-off seaman manage to elude the customs guys the latter collect the “taripa” from the crewing agency that contracted the services of the seaman. And as is the practice, no receipt will be issued. Naturally, the crewing agency deducts the amount from whatever collectibles the seafarer has from the agency.

     According to our sources, one of those seamen victimized found courage to ask the “taripa” collectors where the money will go since there is no receipt issued.

     The Customs personnel nonchalantly retorted that they have to meet a quota given them by the higher-ups.

     This “justification” by the Customs “taripa” collectors is the same refrain at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). And this is one funny thing about this “taripa” system in one of the three agencies we have mentioned above. The collections are being passed on as “investment” to the employees cooperative where at certain period of time the accumulated money is divided among the members in a sharing scheme that considers the rank of the employees in the said agency. Wow, what an innovative idea!

     Now, if they do this to the lowly seafarers whose pay is based on their position on the vessel they are on board, and is pegged on the peso-dollar exchange rate, how much “taripa” these customs men must have been collecting from big-time importers in Davao? The amount could ne mind-boggling!

     So, this is how “Daang Matuwid” of the Aquino administration is laid the domain of the BOC and all other regulatory and collection agencies of government?

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Posted in Opinion