Home » Customs & Trade, Maritime » Customs brokers answer back on Republic Act 9280

THE Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) clarified certain provisions of Republic Act 9280 or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004 following what one of its officials say is the “growing misinterpretation by some industry sectors”.

The CCBI was instrumental in helping draft the law, now the subject of heavy protest from the freight forwarding community. Freight forwarders are against provisions banning the corporate practice of customs brokerage, among others.

They claim that the law will also put 20,000 industry personnel out of work, as it specifically gives accredited customs brokers the exclusive right to perform certain tasks.

In a public consultation spearheaded by CCBI last Monday, association president Diosdado Santiago said the law’s prime intention was the professionalization of brokers. “The law is not about multinational firms, forwarding companies and other associations – that’s why it’s called the Customs Brokers Act,” he pointed out.

On the hotly contested prohibition against the corporate practice of customs brokerage, CCBI stressed the provision does not disallow freight forwarding firms from fully operating. “It does not mean they will be out of business,” assured Customs collector Rogelio Villagarcia, also a member of CCBI.

According to him, forwarders offer many services including shipping, air and sea consolidation, warehousing, packing and crating, stuffing, export documentation and processing.

“The law only asks them to hand over the customs clearance service to those properly trained to perform the task. Only that and the rest is theirs,” he said.

Villagarcia, however, admitted pure brokerage firms will have to close shop. Under the law’s proposed implementing rules and regulations (IRR), companies are given only up to December 31, 2004 to file an entry with customs, he said.

CCBI director Roberto T. Domondon denied earlier presumption that the law will translate to massive unemployment. He said it provides for “permissible delegation” of certain tasks but that this must be under direct supervision and control of the brokers.

These tasks include preparation of documents, declaration, filing and lodging and processing. On the other hand, tasks which may not be delegated are those “purely personal” to the broker such as consultation, signing, remote entry lodging and purely technical processing tasks.

Domondon further said it is not true that, under the law, lawyers will be prohibited from representing their clients with the BOC and that brokers can represent their clients at the Court of Tax Appeals. “The appearance in a judicial body is still exclusive to lawyers. Customs brokers may still not engage in the practice of the law,” he said.

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