Diary of Lester Knox Little

February 5, 1950

To office and to Custom House a.m. and p.m. Tried to see Jacinto in afternoon, but he was out for the day. Actually, he is trying to avoid the politicos who are trying to save the Customs jobs of their protégés. Talked for over an hour with Sr. David, Chief of the Arrastre Division. He has been in the Customs 25 years or more, and is completely disillusioned and discouraged. He said that the greatest curse in the Customs is political pressure to secure places for friends and relatives. Many men are appointed to places for which they have no experience or aptitudes, and over the heads of qualified long-service career men. He said graft and squeeze are widespread. Low pay is another important factor in the demoralization of the Customs. Although prices have gone up 4, 5 or 6 times pre-war scales, the pay of the higher echelons in the Customs has not been increased. In his own case, before the war he could own a car; now, he cannot afford even an occasional taxi. His two sons have finished high school and gone to work, because he could not afford to send them to college. Pay of the lower ranks has been increased, but not proportionately to the cost of living. He also said that present arrangement whereby the Commissioner of Customs is divorced from control of the Manila Customs while the Deputy Commissioner is  collector of the port of Manila, is most unsatisfactory and the cause of constant friction. He recommends that the Commissioner should be ex officio Collector of Manila. (I can see that this question is agitating the entire Customs staff).