Last week, the local office of the Bureau of Customs released a statement about the installation of a new cargo x-ray machine at the Davao International Airport.
In the statement, District Collector Erastus Sandino B. Austria was quoted as saying that the agency “is committed in protecting our air and sea ports from smuggling. With the increased economic activity in the region, we ensure that Customs is prepared to cater the predicted increase in trade activity in Metro Davao.”
Austria added that those personnel who will operate the machines, as there are six of these in the port, have already been trained to operate these equipment.
A similar story by the Philippines News Agency also came out Tuesday, this time the machine was for the Port of Manila and that the intention was to ensure that contrabands and other smuggled goods can be detected.
In the previous story, Austria explained that the new equipment were among the priorities Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Of course, there is no question that new equipment are always good investment especially if the intention is to increase revenues as well as improve transparency.
However, no investment is worth if the office continues to tolerate the old practices that defraud the government of much needed resources.
Machines cannot talk. People can always outsmart even the latest artificial intelligence for as long as those running these facilities continue to harbor that intention of making a killing. In fact, it would be easier for them to do their shenanigans.
So, for the agency to be able to show that it has shifted paradigm – everyone knows what ails government agencies, not just the Bureau of Customs – it must be able to institute mechanisms that ensures transparency and punishes wrongdoings.
There must be a radical policy formulation which will make everyone accountable for his or her action. Unless this is done, no matter what equipment are installed, efficiency will continue to be a dream.