LOGISTICS industry stakeholders have high hopes that the five new deputy commissioners at the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) would bring much needed reform at the corruption-ridden agency.
However, they say there are many outstanding issues that need to be addressed.
On Sept. 27, five new deputy commissioners took their oath before Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. They are Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero (Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group), Primo Aguas (Management Information System and Technology Group or MISTG), Jessie Dellosa (Enforcement; also OIC for Intelligence), Ma. Edita Tan (Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group), and Myrna Chua (Internal Administration).
Except for Aguas, who is overseas, all four met Customs commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon on Sept 30.
Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines president Arnel Gamboa told PortCalls in a text message, “SCMAP sees the revamp as a brave and decisive attempt to cleanse (the BOC) ranks of harborers of corruption.”
He added that “though there were some hiccups during the directive to recall all personnel back to mother units and (make an inventory of) vacant positions, the move is believed to be a short-term pain but will deliver a long-term gain.”
Port Users Confederation of the Philippines president Dominador de Guzman in a text message to PortCalls said the appointment of new deputy commissioners “who are seasoned executives” is a “bright direction in the bureau” but “just give them enough time to adjust.”
PortCalls online readers also welcomed the change at the BOC.
“We look forward to the new… officials to do their job with merit, responsibility and dedication,” Fel Espinosa commented via portcalls.com, adding that importers and exporters wish all customs officials, in high or low posts, offer “fair treatment applicable to all”.
Readers Jun Javier and Elrey Mendoza both commended Uvero, saying he is a “brilliant asset” at the bureau and will deliver “beyond expectation.”
Uvero is acknowledged as a customs and trade expert, having counseled a number of industry associations over the years. He is also a regular in the logistics industry lecture circuit.
But along with the positive and hopeful feedback, industry stakeholders pointed to many outstanding issues they say the new deputy commissioners should address.
SCMAP’s Gamboa said the new deputy commissioners “should emulate the best values this government has been preaching from the start – transparency, accountability and integrity.”
He said, “Trust must be won back from the people” and there should be “no special favors to distinguished importers nor any trace of coffee money to employees.”
He said the deputy commissioners’ top priority should be to address the “perennial server downtime” of the electronic-to-mobile system (e2m) that “not only delays processing but also breeds corruption”.
Francis Lopez, president of BOC-accredited value-added service provider InterCommerce Network Services said, “We expect improved procedures and less red tape in operations under DepCom Uvero.”
Lopez called for “a review, possibly a rebid of the PNSW (Philippine National Single Window) and IPCS (Integrated Philippine Customs System) with MISTG under DepCom Aguas,” he added.
He also hopes the Client Profile Registration System or CPRS will be “automatically renewed upon submission of updated documents,” such as business permits.
Lopez said now is the best time to effect changes at BOC, otherwise things could get worse.
Also in a text message, Metro Combined Logistics Solutions Inc. general manager Yhel Reyes suggested the “automation of manual documentations and electronic payment through banks to avoid red tape.”
In his recent column in PortCalls http://www.portcalls.com/boc-reshuffle-and-impact-on-boc-automation-programs/, Cargo Data Exchange Center chief executive officer Leo Morada listed the issues Aguas must give top priority. These are completion of the ongoing BOC infrastructure upgrade; full mandatory implementation of e2m automated export declaration system for airfreight; strict mandatory implementation of advance submission of airline and air cargo electronic manifests; and replacement of the old BOC automated customs operations system at NAIA and Mactan airport with the e2m system.––Roumina M. Pablo
Photos from www.gov.ph