If government wants to stop smuggling, then it should embrace XLOG technology

The country’s Bureau of Customs is leaking like a sieve, which explains why until now, smuggling of illegal drugs hasn’t abated. Shabu that is being sold on the streets of the archipelago are manufactured in China. There are no shabu laboratories in the country anymore. Several shipments worth billions of pesos have been intercepted, but this represents only a fraction of the shabu coming into the country. This leaves me wondering if President Duterte is raising his hands in surrender in the face of this pipeline of shabu flowing right under the noses of our customs bureau. Or put another way, it raises questions on whether the government even wants to stop smuggling of shabu.

This is rather tragic because putting a stop to smuggling could have been accomplished as early as the first quarter of 2018 with software developed by Filipino IT experts. Called “XLOG”, the software has been tested and retested, and consistently proved that the leaks in the system could be plugged permanently. It basically removes human intervention in the entire process, and with it, the opportunities for corruption.

If put to use by our Bureau of Customs, XLOG can eliminate delays in getting cargoes processed and released, and ensure that the government collects the right tariffs. What more can the government ask for? It will make exporters and importers happy, get rid of corruption, and increase collections. It’s a simple formula and it’s hard to understand why Customs officials refuse to embrace the technology.

On top of the crystal clear benefits it will bring to the government, XLOG is not even to cost the Bureau of Customs a single centavo. It is being offered entirely for free. All it needs to do is accept the technology, install the application at all ports of entry, and government will reap the rewards in one smooth movement. The technology has been proven effective in plugging the leaks in the present set-up. Government cannot possibly find a better solution to the smuggling problem and the corruption issue.

Of course, once in place, XLOG will eliminate corruption, which is perhaps the reason why there is resistance in the Bureau of Customs. No matter how many shake-ups will be carried out, the corruption will continue to plague the agency, for as long as officials are given broad discretion on letting a cargo shipment go through its checkpoints. Money, especially when it involves millions of pesos for a single transaction, can dilute the strongest of principles among officials.

Hence, we can only watch with despair as more and more smuggling take place on a daily basis at our ports of entry, both for sea and air cargo. We are losing the war, and government has only itself to blame. If Customs chief Isidro Lapena wants to change the situation, all he needs to do is get XLOG to come into the picture. It’s been waiting there on the sidelines. The picture can change in an instant: smuggling can be eliminated once the buttons for XLOG are pressed.



An economic disaster waiting to happen

The klaxon bells are now blaring to signal the approach of a critical level in the problem caused by the truck ban imposed by the Manila City Government on the operations of the Port of Manila, notably the Manila International Container Port and South Harbor.

File photo by AFP.

File photo by AFP.

In his column, “Market Files” that came out in the Business Mirror, Lito Gagni warned that the situation is nearing “tipping point” and the negative consequences on the national economy could prove disastrous.

The truck ban is just one of the factors, Gagni pointed out. The situation is also aggravated by the longer processing time for import papers and the LTFRB/LTO crackdown on the operation of trucks without franchises, or better known as “colorum”.

Already, the Bureau of Customs has suffered from a shortfall in its collections vis-a-vis its goals. For the first quarter for 2014, it generated collections of P86.501 billion, but this was 8.73% short of its target collection of P94.778 billion for the period. The trend continued in April 2014, with the agency posting only P30.5 billion, or P5.26 billion short of its P35.76 billion goal for the month.

Unless the President of the Republic steps into the picture and intervene, our country’s economy could suffer from a man-made disaster from which recovery might be as difficult as getting back on our feet after Yolanda.