By Rea Cu July 16 2019/ BusinessMirror
AN order by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) allowing non-Customs brokers to practice the profession has been described by the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. (CCBI) as “unfair and degrading” to professional customs brokers.
In a letter obtained by the BusinessMirror, the CCBI wrote to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero requesting for the recall of Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 34-2019.
“It has come to our attention the promulgation of CMO 34-2019 entitled ‘Interim guidelines implementing section 106 and 107 of Republic Act 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act [CMTA],’” the letter read. “Essentially, this CMO authorizes non-Customs brokers to practice our beloved profession in direct contrast to the provisions of RA 9280, otherwise known as the Customs Brokers Act of 2004.”
The BOC received the letter from CCBI, signed by its National President Adones C. Carmona, on July 12. The letter was also forwarded to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) the same day.
The BOC has yet to issue a statement when asked for their comment regarding CCBI’s request.
The CCBI explained in its letter to the BOC that CMO 34-2019 was issued without undertaking a public consultation with its stakeholders.
“As the Accredited Professional Organization for Customs Brokers, we believe that we should have been notified at the very least,” the letter added.
The issuance also contradicts the prior issuance of the BOC under CMO 5-2019 titled “Rules and regulations governing the registration of Customs brokers transacting with the BOC and for other purposes.”
The CCBI said that “‘declarants’ accredited under this CMO run the risk of getting criminally prosecuted and convicted and be imprisoned for not less than six years for ‘unauthorized practice’ of the Customs broker profession under section 34 and 28, respectively.”
The CCBI also noted that the CMO will only encourage the proliferation of “Declarants and Consignees for hire.”
“The CMO is, at the least, unfair and degrading to our profession,” the letter added.
The CCBI also pointed out the order will negatively affect the more than 11,000 licensed Customs brokers all over the Philippines. These brokers spent their collegiate years to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration (BSCA) degree and seven months to take the Customs Brokers Licensure Exam administered annually by the PRC.
“This CMO essentially kills not only the profession but also the BSCA program as authorized by the CHEd [Commission on Higher Education].”
Furthermore, the organization added that the CMO opens floodgates for just any individual to be accredited as “declarant” sans the restraint and accountability accompanying a Customs brokers’ license.
“We understand that the BOC has the mandate to fully implement the CMTA,” the CCBI said. “However, this must not be done at the expense of and in total disregard of our profession.”
Last month, the BOC issued guidelines for the registration of brokers transacting with the bureau, in accordance with the CMTA.
Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2019 also gave the customs commissioner the option to “limit the number of Customs brokers representatives commensurate only to the number of transactions of every Customs broker in each port.”
The CAO was also issued to help prevent all forms of smuggling, to regulate the conduct of Customs brokers and their representatives transacting with the bureau, to streamline the requirements for their registration, as well as to establish and implement a registration information management system for brokers.
The CCBI said the implementation of CMO 34-2019 would have an effect on the BOC’s anti-smuggling efforts.