“We are waiting for the implementation of the outsourcing of iCARE (Interim Customs Accreditation and Registration Unit) to the BIR,” BOC deputy commissioner for Enforcement Group (EG) Ariel Nepomuceno told PortCalls at the sidelines of the recent Port Users Confederation 17th anniversary celebration and induction of new officers.
Nepomuceno said the BIR is “expected to be more strict” in authenticating a broker or importer, since the iCARE is the “first line of defense to avoid problems.”
The BOC executive said not all functions of iCARE will be outsourced to the BIR though, mostly just the “critical part, the initial part” such as spot checking, admission of documents and authenticating.
He did not provide further details.
Last week, a notice to the public on iCARE operations was uploaded on the BOC website. Among other things, the notice said that beginning Feb 1, a number of rules will be strictly implemented at ICARE. Among these, applications for accreditation will be acted upon within 15 days for new applications and within 10 days for renewals as provided for in Customs Memorandum Order 23-2009.
There have been reports that the application process was a source of corruption, taking months before they are attended to.
Other rules are:
- Strict window-to-window transaction only;
- No accreditation folders with incomplete requirements shall be received;
- All folders for accreditation shall be pre-evaluated for completeness check before it may be officially received by iCARE. Applicants are required to wait for the pre-evaluation process to be finished, otherwise, the application shall not be considered and ICARE shall not be accountable for lost folders;
- All folders received shall be provided with a notification slip indicating when follow ups shall be entertained, which is after 15 days in case of new applications or 10 days in case of renewal;
- No more undertakings shall be allowed. Every importer is mandated to file applications for renewal at least 30 days prior to expiration of accreditation (CMO 23-2009);
- Approval or denial of applications shall be sent through email (CMO 47-2010). No follow-up at iCARE office will be entertained unless email notification has not been received within 15 days or 10 days as the case may be;
- No person, other than the applicant himself/herself, shall be entertained unless the authorized person is armed with the pertinent Special Power of Attorney/Secretary’s Certificate or Board Resolution in case of corporation, or has a company ID.
Meanwhile, BOC’s X-ray unit will now be under the watch of the EG effective immediately. It used to be under the Office of the Commissioner.
Nepomuceno said there will be daily rotations on who will man the X-ray and a “system of assigning who will be the team leader”.
In a separate interview, Deputy Commissioner for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero said viewing of the X-ray will be “online”.
Uvero said while the x-ray operator won’t see what is being scanned, “somebody else (would have) access to the viewing” such as the district collector, Intelligence, the EG, and the Office of the Commissioner, making the data available to more people and thus, lessen the chance to make money illicitly
He also mentioned there would still be “some (personnel) movements” at the bureau.
Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla at the BOC’s 112th anniversary celebration last Monday said that “one year from now, I would like our countrymen to say that 2014 was the real start of big changes at Customs”, expressing confidence that the agency will have stopped smuggling by next year. –– Roumina M. Pablo