An insult to Customs

Cathay Pacific Airlines had replaced the toy plane that was smashed in NAIA Terminal 1. The owner of the smashed toy, Rachell Anne Ramos, shared on April 25 a photo of an Airbus A350-900 scale model gifted by Cathay Pacific. 

Ramos earlier posted on Facebook a story on how her a die-cast toy airplane was flagged at the NAIA Terminal 1 allegedly because of a “suspicious image”. The toy allegedly passed inspections and even subjected to the airport’s sniffing dogs. It was only because of the scrutinous eyes of a BOC personnel that the toy was flagged and to reduce the hassle, just allowed the toy plane to be smashed. Hence, instead of landing to the lap of the child Ramos wanted to gift the toy to, it just ended in the trash can.

The toy, however, was not replaced and it took Cathay Pacific to take the initiative and replace the same. Quite insulting, right? And more insulting — smugglings continue in the Philippines and the BOC has only sniffed, and confiscated, on a few of them. According to Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman, Jesus Lim Arranza,  the country is losing about P250 billion in terms of value-added tax annually due to smuggling based on a study it commissioned a few years ago.

The BOC, however, could do something better. To avoid instances like that of Ramos, the BOC can take the following steps:

  1. Conduct regular training and seminars for their officers to have deeper knowledge of the prohibited and restricted items, international trade, and customs procedures.
  2. Invest in modern and high-tech equipment to detect and identify suspicious objects, including toys or other items that may pose security threats. Customs should regularly maintain and upgrade the equipment to ensure its accuracy and efficiency.
  3. Establish clear and transparent guidelines for travelers. Customs should have standardized rules and procedures, and the guidelines should be readily available on their website or in print.
  4. Establish a grievance mechanism for travelers who may feel aggrieved or unfairly treated by Customs. This will give travelers an avenue to appeal or raise their concerns appropriately.

By following these steps, Customs can minimize the risk of false alarms, inconveniences, or complaints from travelers, while still effectively monitoring and controlling imports and exports.

SIM Card registration extension: Providing troll farms a space to maneuver?

Bongbong Marcos signed Tuesday, April 25, the 90-day extension for SIM card registration. It appears, however, that the extension is favoring only the troll farms.

The SIM Card Registration Law (RA 11934) mandates that anyone selling a SIM card must first inquire about a valid identification document before proceeding with the sale. Those with existing SIM cards are also required to register the same with the deadline of registration set on 26 April 2023. Three days before the deadline, however, only 82 million SIM cards have been registered or 49.31% of total active SIMs. As of December 2022, around 168,016,400 SIMS are considered active in the Philippines.

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Tourism as “Magic Bullet”

Tourism is often considered a “magic bullet” for local economic development because it has the potential to generate significant revenue and create employment opportunities in a relatively short period of time. But do we have the appropriate gun to use the magic bullet?

The impact of tourism is undeniable. It is instrumental to the creation of jobs across various sectors such as hospitality, transportation, retail, and tourism promotion. In 2019, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), for instance, noted that the Philippine tourism industry led to the creation of 9.5 million jobs in 2019. This declined to 6.49 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns but eventually gained traction due to the easing of health protocols. In 2021, the total contribution of travel and tourism to employment is 7.82 million.

The tourism industry is also a major contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) which was noted to be at 22.5% in 2019. The figure dived to 4.8% but started to rise to 10.4% in 2021. As of 2021, the contribution of tourism to GDP is US$41 billion.

Source: WTTC
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Implications of the Congressional hearings on the Degamo Case

So, we are in for another tragicomic sarzuela — the Congressional Hearings of the murder case of Roel Degamo and his constituents allegedly masterminded by Congressman Arnie Teves. It is tragic because thousands and even millions of pesos and hundreds of legislative hours will be wasted for the public hearings, and comic because we will see again our national legislators trying to hide-and-yet-expose their personal interests and intellectual capacities.

But what are the potential implications of congressional hearings on this case?

On the positive note, the Congressional hearings could generate greater public awareness and demand for action, which could lead to reforms in the system and promote greater justice. It could also shed light on the case and help authorities ensure that the investigation process is transparent and legally sound. Ideally, the hearings could also help to restore public trust in the justice system.

Cong. Arnie Teves and Gov. Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental
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Is the LTFRB excluded from the DoTr group chat?

So it seems.

Just lately, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has approved more than 10,000 new slots for ride-hailing services. While this is lauded to create more jobs, the move is expected to worsen the existing traffic situation. In Metro Manila alone, around PhP3.8 billion economic losses are experienced daily during the pre-pandemic levels because of the traffic.

The last time we checked, the mandate of LTFRB’s mother agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), is still the promotion, development and regulation of a dependable and coordinated network of transportation and the main agency that ensures the fast, safe, efficient and reliable transportation services. With the additional 10,000 vehicles, the idea of a “fast, efficient and reliable transportation” is lost. The same with the word “regulatory” in the LTFRB.

Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on

But of course, we cannot blame the LTFRB it is outside of the DoTr’s group chat. In the end, it is still the lead agency that decides who to include and not. Worse, there may be no group chat at all. Such is a big problem because improving the transport system in the Philippines requires a concerted effort from multiple stakeholders not only from the DoTr’s attached agencies but also other government agencies, the private sector, and the general public.

Continue reading “Is the LTFRB excluded from the DoTr group chat?”