ABS-CBN News : Marcos seeks Congress help to 'plug leakages' in Customs, BIR: Zubiri

By Katrina Domingo | ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sought the help of Congress to stop corruption in government by crafting laws that would plug "leakages" in revenue-generating agencies, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Wednesday.

Several members of the Senate and House of Representatives attended a meeting with Marcos on Tuesday to discuss the incoming administration's legislative priorities and the preparations for the State of the Nation Address in July.

"Ang sinabi niya, yung mga leakages or what you call corruption. What is a better way to call corruption? Di ba leakages?" Zubiri told reporters in a press conference.

"Sabi niya, we have to stop that… Particularly he pointed out sa Bureau of Customs, sa BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue)," he said.

(He noted the leakages or what you call corruption. What is a better way to call corruption? Leakages, right? He said we have to stop that.)

The incoming President did not give particular requests and instead asked lawmakers to "help, through legislation, plug these leakages," Zubiri said.

"He even had the idea of talking about returning the SGS noong panahon ng Daddy niya," the lawmaker said, referring to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and the Societe Generale de Surveillance.

"Ia-outsource na 'yung examiner, 'yung nag-iinspect nitong mga goods," Zubiri said.

(He even had the idea of talking about returning the SGS from his daddy's time. The examiner, the inspector of goods would be outsourced.)

In its website, SGS - which was established in 1878 - identified itself as the "world's leading testing, inspection and certification company."

It specializes in product testing to minimize health and safety risks, quantity and quality control, and issuing certificates to "ensure that products, processes, systems or services meet national and international standards and regulations."

In the early 2000s, SGS sought arbitration over the Philippines' alleged failure to make payment of invoices under a contract for the firm to provide pre-shipment inspection services.

Marcos Jr. last week said his administration would go after the "endemic" corruption in government, noting that the Philippine economy would "simply not succeed" if the customs bureau and BIR fail to collect tariffs and taxes efficiently.

The BIR earlier said that the Marcos family, which has been accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth during the late dictator's incumbency, has yet to pay some P203 billion in estate taxes.

Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza, meantime, called on incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno to beware of certain personalities at the Bureau of Customs, an agency which he will supervise under his department.

“Secretary Diokno, we appeal, please don’t bring garbage anymore in the Bureau of Customs. Let’s listen to the people—linisin natin ang ating bakuran (let's clean our backyard), let’s take the garbage out. Huwag na po tayong magpasok ng basura (Let's not allow garbage)," Daza said.

"As we always say, 'garbage in, garbage out.' We cannot expect to achieve our revenue targets if the people in our revenue- generating agencies are garbage."

-- With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News