MANILA MalacaAang on Tuesday said the "state of lawlessness" in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to deploy military personnel in the graft-ridden government agency.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the multi-billion peso worth of shabu that recently slipped past the Customs is one proof of rampant irregularity in the BOC.
"The provision of the Constitution says that when there is lawless violence, then the President can call up the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Now, the lawless violence certainly would refer to what is happening in the Bureau of Customs," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
"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 Constitution. Now it endangers the security of our countrymen. Certainly, the President will have to do something about it, he added.
Panelo said "violence" does not only refer to physical violence.
When you say lawless violence, it's not just physical violence. You do violence to the Constitution, you do violence to the law. It's a state of lawlessness. The state of lawlessness would include state of lawless violence, he said.
He clarified that the fielding of AFP personnel to temporarily oversee BOC aims to create the military presence that will hopefully "intimidate those corrupt people there.
Last week, Duterte designated former AFP chief of staff and Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Rey Leonardo Jagger Guerrero as the new BOC chief.
Guerrero replaced Isidro Sid LapeAa who was promoted to Cabinet post as head of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Panelo said Guerrero got a "blanket" authority from the President to get rid of corruption in the graft-ridden bureau under Department of Finance.
Guerrero will have to assess what is required and he will do it. I don't know exactly what Commissioner Guerrero will do. He has the blanket authority from the President to do what is required under the law, Panelo said.
Panelo said Guerrero must be given the opportunity and leeway on what must be done to stop
corruption in the BOC.
In a separate press statement, Panelo said Duterte, as both Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, is merely exercising his constitutionally mandated functions to serve and protect the people.
Panelo cited Article 2, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitutions which says the prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people.
Being the principal and most important mission of the government, the President, as head thereof, cannot just turn his back to this constitutional command and actively succumb to another provision found in the same instrument, Panelo said.
He was referring to Article 16, Section 5(4) which provides [n]o member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.
These critics demand decisive action from the administration but are more than quick to complain once a resolute decision has been reached by the President. Before they criticize, they should first understand a rudimentary principle in statutory construction that a law, or even the Constitution, must not be read in truncated parts, Panelo said.
Panelo assured Duterte, a former prosecutor, knows the limits of the power and authority of the President's office.
Hence, our people can be assured that the directives by the President are well-studied, supported by the rule of law and, most importantly, intended solely for the benefit of our country, he said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency