The Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) is set to meet with Philippine Customs Deputy Commissioner Natalio Ecarma III to tackle the issue of show cause orders and suspension of erring customs brokers, saying they find the process to be unfair.
Newly elected CCBI president Ferdinand Nague, in an interview with PortCalls on the sidelines of the group’s recent forum, said they will be meeting with the deputy commissioner of the Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group (RCMG) to discuss their concern with BOC’s measures to cleanse itself of erring stakeholders. The Account Management Office, which processes the accreditation and suspension of importers and customs brokers, is under the Legal Service of the RCMG.
Since January 2017, BOC has been posting online the list of importers and customs brokers who have been issued show cause orders, are under investigation, or have been prohibited from reactivating their expired accreditation for possible violation of customs rules and laws.
CCBI members held a forum on April 4 to discuss the matter, their inputs to be consolidated and reported to Ecarma in their meeting after Holy Week.
Nague claimed BOC procedures for suspending the accreditation of customs brokers are “not fair” because it is importers—not customs brokers—who violate customs rules.
He added there is seemingly no due process because CCBI members have reported being issued show cause orders then being suspended, whether they supplied the right answer or not. “There is no evaluation,” Nague claimed.
AMO chief Atty. Mary Grace Malabed, however, told PortCalls the agency observes due process and recommends suspension only when importers or customs brokers fail to respond or provide sufficient answer as to why they should not be suspended.
Suspended importers or customs brokers may file for a motion for reconsideration with the deputy commissioner of RCMG and, if rejected, can still file the same motion with the customs commissioner.
Nague explained that customs brokers do not own the goods and do not know the real contents of shipments, relying only on what importers disclose.
He said the essence of the warrant of seizure and detention (WSD), which has been the basis for some of the suspensions, is limited to the property or the goods, which customs brokers precisely do not own.
Nague said customs may investigate or charge customs broker if they “did some hanky panky or they violated (the process), like they falsified the documents or changed the invoice, but the Bureau of Customs should prove that.”
He added that the proper way for BOC to handle the matter is to coordinate with the Professional Regulatory Board for Customs Brokers (PRBCB), which issues and revokes licenses of customs brokers. He noted that under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, customs brokers should only register with the customs agency, as opposed to the current requirement to secure accreditation from it.
Asked how CCBI can help BOC in its drive to prevent erring stakeholders from transacting with the agency, Nague said “that’s why we are also guarding our ranks, we are cleansing our ranks.”
“We believe that in any organization, there are bad eggs. That’s why we have a Committee on Discipline,” he said. The new CCBI board is reviving this committee where stakeholders and even government agencies can file complaints against alleged erring customs brokers.
Nague said the committee will investigate the case then submit findings or file a direct complaint with the PRBCB, which is under the Professional Regulation Commission. He said BOC can coordinate with the discipline committee about reports of erring customs brokers. – Roumina Pablo
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