Philippine Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said he recently signed an order suspending all memoranda requiring clearances from the Office of the Commissioner (OCOM) for imports of various commodities.
The announcement was met with approval by customs brokers, who claim the OCOM clearance lengthened the bureaucratic process.
With the suspension, monitoring, verification and ensuring compliance of shipments will be handled by the concerned Office of District Collectors, which in turn will report on weekly to the OCOM.
Meanwhile, amid modernization programs at the Bureau of Customs, Biazon said he sees no threat to the customs broking profession.
“I don’t see the profession being in danger,” Biazon told PortCalls Asia in an interview at the recent induction of a new set of officers and directors of the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. (CCBI).
The customs commissioner assured the customs brokers that as long as they are protected by law, their profession is secure.
Biazon also said the implementation of the National Single Window, an online trade facility that grants traders direct transactions with the BOC, is not a disadvantage but will make the brokers’ job easier instead through automation of transactions.
But Biazon said that if worse comes to worst, brokers can look at the customs bureau as an option.
“I think that’s one avenue that they can look at. Personally, one of the things I have in mind is implementing stricter qualification standards for customs employees, preferably people who’ve had formal training in customs administration and with practical experiences,” Biazon said, adding that with those standards, brokers will definitely fit in.
On another note, the commissioner said he hopes the new leadership of CCBI would continue to be open to engagement with the bureau.
“We hope the association or the set of officers will be able to work well with the Bureau of Customs’ leadership and organization as well. I am here to speak in behalf of our bureau that you can rest assured that we will be opening our arms and accept you in being a partner to developing the trade and the field of customs brokerage and of course in pursuing the mandate the Bureau of Customs. So let us be partners,” Biazon said.
The commissioner also dared the institution to set aside their differences and personalities and just focus what needs to be done. He said both the bureau and the organization should move as one.
“If we want to show people that we don’t deserve the tag ‘the most corrupt agency in the Philippines’, let us show by action,” he dared both his team and the brokers.
Biazon also clarified that there are no plans to abolish or privatize the bureau.
Roberta Riga, CCBI’s new president, said that under her leadership, the CCBI will cater to the needs of its constituents and perform activities that will focus not only on improving the organization’s image, but the brokers’ services as well through the group’s “Seven Points Agenda.”
The agenda is CCBI’s roadmap to protecting the profession “from any kind of intrusion”, its members and becoming an institution of professionals. It includes collaborating with “local and international organizations towards innovative and modernized trade facilitation activities”, and initiating “amendments to the CCBI by-laws to provide equal right to the freedom of suffrage among members” nationwide.
“I believe that the first quarter is a good start for the team as it gave us a chance to know each other and maximize the ideas and potentials for the betterment of the organization,” Riga said.
Other newly elected directors who will serve a two-year term are Lamberto Mindanao, Joseph Tabirara, Rogelio Villagarcia, Arnulfo Gambayan, Samson Gabisan, Dennis del Pilar, Sunny Aguila, Ariel Reyes, Jose Rommel Abac, Cris John Garcia, Albert Cruz, Girlie Perez, Roland Quiambao and Roberto Domondon.
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