A ‘hatchet job’ of a Senate report

June 28, 2022 Paul M. Gutierrez 1762 views

PaulLAST June 1, 2022, the Senate, sitting as the ‘Committee of the Whole,’ finally submitted and approved in the plenary, Committee Report (CR) 649, on the result of its nearly two years of investigation of the smuggling plague hitting our agricultural sector.

The report created a mild sensation considering that topping the list of alleged “protectors” of smuggling and the smugglers are four top officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), headed, no less, by Comm. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the highly-respected and bemedaled former Armed Forces (AFP) chief of staff.

As one of possibly the very few in the ranks of the media who has covered the goings on at the waterfront for over 30 years now, since 1987 and the goings on in other agencies of the government and our other political institutions such as the Congress and the Senate, this corner shares the suspicion that the report—erroneous in some of its details and conclusions—was done just for the sake of its being considered as another “accomplishment” of the outgoing 18th Congress. Worse, it may have even been submitted for other suspicious motives other than addressing the problem of agricultural smuggling.

In other words, the suspicion– especially tagging Guerrero and other BOC officials as smuggling “protectors” — that “animosity,” personal motives, deeply entrenched opinion about the BOC and yes, political ambition, muddled the report’s objectivity, is worth considering.

This, if we consider that while agricultural smuggling has reached alarming level by the end of 2021, when the Senate probe started, it was sponsored by lawmakers—Senator President Vicente Sotto and Sen. Panfilo Lacson– with an eye for their bigger political ambition, as we have seen.

That deeply-ingrained opinion against the agency, bolstered by their biased sources and the result of past hearings may have also bent the report’s conclusions cannot be excluded.

In the entire length of the hearings, most of which we have followed, what was noticeable was the stubborn refusal of both Sotto and Lacson to at least appreciate the laudable results of the focused reform programs initiated by Guerrero during his term as commissioner.

These reforms, the most sterling of which was the BOC’s three-peat citation as ‘Gold Trailblazer’s Awardee’ in its Performance Governance System (PGS) application, resulted to the BOC being able to consistently surpassed its collection goals in the past 3 years, among others.

And the result is more commendable considering that the BOC managed to pass the 3-stage PGS in just 3 years when the “average” record for other government agencies is 5 years, at least.

In other words, as the BOC has been the subject of perennial scrutiny by Congress and the Senate over pass booboos, their negative subjective opinion prevailed over the objective, factual and measurable accomplishments the agency have had under Guerrero.

Since the May 9 polls, it also did not escape our attention that a well-funded public smear job against Guerrero and the BOC was in the works.

And the only reason we can deduce from it is because vested interests want to have “justification” to have Guerrero and other BOC officials replaced. And what better way to besmirch his reputation and destroy every good deed he has done than to add the prestigious name of the Senate into the mix.

But the man, like the other Duterte appointees there, are not clinging, like a barnacle to a sunken ship, to their post. They would leave at the appointed hour.

Or, are those behind the smear job against the BOC, the Senate report included, already laying the groundwork to justify whatever scam, err, scheme, they are planning to implement at the BOC by putting the blame directly on Guerrero later on?

If this be the case, then woe once again to the agency. And woe too, to Comm. Guerrero, whose only “fault” is his lack of “pleasing personality.” That is, he is not in the habit of pleasing everyone, except possibly himself, for the most pleasing results of his tenure at the agency.