Palace: Military presence in BOC, part of Duterte’s duty to serve & protect

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DAVAO CITY (October 30) — Malacañang on Tuesday, backed anew President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s decision to place military personnel in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) amid issues of corruption and drug smuggling within the agency.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo said the Constitution allows the President as Commander-in-Chief to call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in relation to his duty of serving and protecting the people.

“[T]he primary duty of the government is to serve and to protect the people. The head of that government is the President. So in protecting and serving the people, the President has to consider that… there should be peace and order [and] he should consider the general welfare of the people,” Secretary Panelo said.

“If you can bring in hundreds of kilos of drugs, then there must be some grave wrong in that area. It violates the law, it violates the Constitution. Now, it endangers the security of our countrymen. Certainly, the President will have to do something about it,” he added.

Sec. Panelo was referring to the issues of corruption hounding Customs officials as well as the alleged smuggling of billions worth of illegal drugs within the agency.

Meanwhile, the Palace Spokesperson clarified that the President has not violated a provision in the Constitution, which prohibits the appointment or designation of AFP members to civilian positions in the government.

Panelo stressed that the Chief Executive could not be held hostage by this provision over his constitutional duty to serve and protect the people. He said the military presence in BOC is a way to prevent further occurrences of corruption and drug smuggling there.

“The President is not appointing or designating any particular member of the Armed Forces,” Panelo noted.

He said the military personnel are not expected to take over the functions of the civilian employees, as the agency continues to be in operating status awaiting a memorandum from the BOC Commissioner.-NewsLine

 

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