By Arjay L. Balinbin Oct 7 2019 / BusinessWorld
THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) will formally ask President Rodrigo R. Duterte to issue a memorandum order giving importers the option to process transactions directly, without resorting to Customs brokers.
“We have drafted the necessary Customs memorandum order, and we are just preparing a brief going to the Department of Finance which we think will submit the same to the Office of the President for approval,” BoC Assistant Commissioner of the Post Clearance Audit Group Vincent Philip C. Maronilla told BusinessWorld in an interview at the Palace on Wednesday, when asked to comment on the President’s remarks against Customs brokers.
He added: “I think the goal of the President is to provide an option to our stakeholders that if they want to process for themselves or their representatives the release of their cargo at the Bureau of Customs, they can do it without the need to hire a Customs broker, and of course we have that option already under the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act, so what we are doing is not really a complete elimination of the Customs brokers but we will provide the importer the option to do it themselves.”
Mr. Duterte earlier said removing brokers from the bureau would eliminate corruption at the agency. “Take away the brokers and you would have cut corruption overnight,” he said.
Mr. Maronilla noted that being a Customs broker is a legitimate profession but said the bureau’s interpretation of the Palace’s intent is to provide a brokerless option.
“Yung essence ng statement ng Presidente (The essence of the President’s statement) is to provide that option,” he said. “Ito ay formally ipro-propose namin sa kanya at hihingan namin ng approval (We will formally propose it to him and seek his approval). Before we go through with it, we will seek further guidance from the President.”
Adones S. Carmona, president of the Chamber of Customs Brokers, told ABS-CBN News last month that the country’s almost 12,000 brokers will resist the President’s plan to have them removed from the bureau.
Norberto V. Castillo, president of the Philippine Association of Customs Brokers in Education, said the government should also upgrade the bureau’s technology and professionalize its ranks.
He said Mr. Duterte cannot just order the removal of brokers because the government is mandated to enforce the Customs Brokers Act of 2004.
Customs brokers have rejected claims that they are to blame for corruption at the Customs bureau. — Arjay L. Balinbin