Military's ”taking over” of BOC to intimidate corrupt individuals, Palace says
Malacanang said on Tuesday the "taking over" of military of the corruption-ridden Bureau of Customs aims to "intimidate" corrupt people in the agency.
This as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that the order of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to take over the BOC should be construed as "assigning" and making "their presence felt" and not necessarily appointing or designating" them.
"There is a provision in the Constitution which says, specifically Article 16, Section 5 that no AFP member can be appointed or designated. But the President is not appointing or designating any particular member of the AFP. As we said earlier, these people will be there first to make their presence felt, to create the military presence and hopefully will intimidate those corrupt people there. Number two, to assist them," he said in a press briefing.
Some lawmakers and lawyers have said that Duterte's order for the AFP to takeover the BOC was unconstitutional, citing that civilian authority should always be superior to military authority.
"Now we must not forget that under Article 2, Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution, it says that the primary duty of the government is to serve and to protect the people, the head of that government is the President. So in protecting and serving the people, the President has to consider that one, there should be peace and order. Number two, consider the general welfare of the people," Panelo said.
He also cited Duterte's declaration of state of lawlessness in September 2016 following a deadly explosion in Davao City and which is still in effect up to now.
"The provision of the Constitution says, when there is lawless violence, then the President can call out the AFP. Now the lawless violence would certain refer to what is happening in BOC. There is a state of lawlessness there. If you can bring in hundreds of kilos of drugs, there must be some grave wrong in that area. And there is state of lawlessness there, it violates the law, it violates the Constitution," explained Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
"You cannot let, or you cannot let this President hostage to a particular provision without relating to previous provisions that grant him the authority as well as the obligation and the duty to serve and to protect this nation," he added.
Duterte ordered the military's takeover of the BOC after P11-billion worth of illegal drugs allegedly slipped past the agency in August.
This was after four empty magnetic lifters were found in Cavite.
As to the status of the BOC employees and officials, Panelo said that a memorandum will be issued by incoming Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who is yet to take his oath of office. Celerina Monte/DMS