The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) is observing due process in the case of importers and customs brokers issued show cause orders or cited as possible violators of customs rules, according to Account Management Office (AMO) chief Atty. Mary Grace Malabed.
Fears that BOC would immediately cut the accreditation of importers and customs brokers, or prohibit those on its list from transacting with the bureau are baseless, Malabed told PortCalls in a recent chance interview.
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 over possible violation of customs rules and laws.
“Unless and until you receive a notice that you are already suspended, that’s it,” Malabed pointed out. Even after issuing a notice of suspension, she said, BOC still needs to observe the 30-day rule before suspending an importer’s or customs broker’s accreditation. This is to allow the importer or broker to release their remaining or incoming shipments so as not to clog the ports.
Malabed also noted that the procedure for handling cases against customs brokers has changed, and there is now “sufficient distinction between the importers and brokers”.
Under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 09-2017, which strengthened the functions of the Legal Service, administrative complaints filed against erring custom brokers for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Customs Brokers Act of 2004, and Customs Administrative Order No. 02-2016-A, should be filed with the office of the Legal Service director.
Prosecution will be by the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers, the group newly created under CMO 09-2017 to replace BOC’s Run Against Smugglers group.
BOC will issue a Notice of Charge or an Order for Preventive Suspension, if warranted, and this will be submitted to the customs commissioner for signature.
The case will be heard by the Prosecution and Litigation Division, whose findings will be submitted to the Legal Service director, who will then submit the decision to the customs commissioner for approval.
For importers, Malabed said the same procedures apply; they have three days to explain why they should not be delisted.
If the company fails to respond or the investigation shows the company has violated customs rules, a recommendation to suspend accreditation will be sent to the importer, which in turn can file for a motion for reconsideration with the deputy commissioner of the Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group, of which the Legal Service is under.
If the importer is still unsatisfied with the decision of the deputy commissioner, he can file for reconsideration with the customs commissioner.
Complaints regarding the suspension or revocation of accreditation of importers should be directed to the Legal Service director, who will make the appropriate recommendation to the customs commissioner, according to CMO 09-2017.
As for importers with expired accreditation and who are still included in the list of possible violators of customs rules and regulations, Malabed said BOC is giving them a chance to explain their side or reactivate their accreditation.
Malabed said these measures are part of Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon’s order to purge BOC’s list of erring importers and customs brokers.
She called on importers and customs brokers to regularly check their email and postal mail to check BOC notices.
Malabed said these parties should also update their contact details with AMO. BOC last January gave importers and customs brokers 30 days to update or correct their outdated or non-working contact details with the agency. She said that while the deadline has expired, AMO is still accepting updated contact details and reinstating accreditation privileges of those who submitted corrected information.
As of March 3, BOC’s latest list indicated 22 importers issued with show cause order, 46 importers and 29 customs brokers slated for suspension, and 48 importers who are prohibited from reactivating their expired accreditation. – Roumina Pablo
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