These questions were posed by the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) in court as it questioned the legality of a Department of Finance (DOF) order requiring brokers to obtain accreditation from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) before they can transact their import business.
CCBI, through its president Joseph Tabirara, filed a petition on March 12 before the Regional Trial Court of Manila seeking a preliminary mandatory injunction and temporary restraining order to stop the BIR and BOC from implementing the DOF order.
The petition, lodged as Civil Case No. 14131542, asked the court to declare null and void BIR Memorandum Order 10-2014 and BOC Memorandum Order 04-2014, and to set aside DOF Department Order 12-2014, which requires importers and brokers to seek accreditation.
The respondents were Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, Revenue Commissioner Kim J. Henares and Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.
CCBI said DO 12-2014 caused “serious anxiety and sleepless nights” among licensed customs brokers and resulted in a “nationwide clamor” that forced the CCBI Board to seek legal remedy.
The lawsuit was also a way to put an end to the issue of whether licensed customs brokers still need accreditation to be able to practice their profession, contrary to Republic Act 9280 or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004, CCBI said.
That act states a licensed customs broker needs only three requirements — a Professional Regulatory Board Certificate of Registration and identification card issued to a Board passer; payment of professional tax; and membership to an accredited professional organization (in this case, the CCBI) — to practice the profession.
CCBI also cited the decision of the Regional Trial Court on March 20, 2013, which nullified and voided several BOC orders on the accreditation of brokers.
The case was filed by the Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PCBAPI) in March 2008.
The court declared CMO No. 6-2006 and Customs Administrative Order No. 3-2006, as well as the implementing rules and regulations dated March 2005 by the Philippine Regulatory Board on customs brokers, null and void for being inconsistent and contrary to RA 9280.
CCBI said the finance secretary, as well as the revenue and customs commissioners, have “no power nor right to amend, alter, or expand an Act of Congress.” ––Roumina M. Pablo