Presidential Adviser on Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Panfilo M. Lacson answers questions from the media in an interview after he delivered his address at a forum in Makati City last January 23. The former senator had refused to accept his pork barrel funds from the start. He said in a privilege speech that the funds had corrupted legislators. Now, even the members of the media are being named as those who received “payolas.” (MNS photo)

Presidential Adviser on Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Panfilo M. Lacson answers questions from the media in an interview after he delivered his address at a forum in Makati City last January 23. The former senator had refused to accept his pork barrel funds from the start. He said in a privilege speech that the funds had corrupted legislators. Now, even the members of the media are being named as those who received “payolas.” (MNS photo)

MANILA, Apr 24 (Mabuhay) – The corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) continues, former  Senator  Panfilo Lacson said Friday, citing reports that he has been getting.

“Based on reports I’ve been receiving from knowledgable persons, the corruption continues at the bureau,” Lacson said in a text message.

“In fact, Commissioner Sevilla admitted that it was not his illusion for corruption to stop at Customs. It shouldn’t be an illusion but an objective or target to eradicate corruption under his watch,” he said, referring to resigned  BoC Commissioner  John  Phillip Sevilla.

Sevilla announced his resignation Thursday and was  immediately  replaced by Alberto Lina, who headed the BoC until 2005 during the Arroyo administration.

Lacson believes that Lina was  the right choice  to replace Sevilla given  his integrity and knowledge of the job.

But asked if he thinks the new Customs chief could address the problems in the agency,  the former senator said:  “As long as the Friday 3 o’clock habit is not licked, it only means that the ‘tara’ system is not eliminated.”

“Therefore, organized corruption still exists,” Lacson said.

The Friday “three o’clock habit”  was said to be the alleged weekly meeting among customs employees and importers where multimillion-peso bribes are given and divided up.

Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara was hopeful that the new Customs  chief will continue the reforms that  Sevilla has started  in the agency.

“It’s very unfortunate because Commissioner Sevilla was known for being incorruptible and he’s not being led by money or influence,” he said in a separate text message.

“We are hoping that new Commissioner Lina will continue whatever reforms Sevilla has instituted. The BOC is important in spreading and easing the trade in the country,” added Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means.(MNS)