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BOC chief: green lane suspension to be lifted on first sign of congestion

Philippine Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña said he will lift the suspension on operation of the green lane facility if signs of port congestion emerge by this month.

The new customs commissioner, in a press conference on September 28, said that if congestion is monitored at ports, especially with the anticipated influx of containers by October, “we will have to lift the suspension.”

Lapeña on August 30 put the use of the green lane on hold while the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) selectivity system undergoes review. This means incoming cargoes are directed only to either the yellow lane or the red lane.

He also said he wants more cargoes to undergo x-ray inspection to prevent contraband from entering the country.

The suspension was imposed amid congressional inquiries on why a shipment of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) worth P6.5 billion was directed to the green lane, eluding BOC detection.

Shipments tagged for the green lane are not reviewed or inspected, while cargoes bound for the yellow lane are subject to documentary review. Shipments tagged for the red lane, meanwhile, undergo both documentary review and physical or non-intrusive inspection.

The suspension does not affect BOC’s Super Green Lane facility, which allows advance processing and clearance of shipments for qualified importers.

Lapeña said the suspension of the green lane continues as “there is no congestion so far.” He, however, noted that they are “very closely” monitoring the effects of the suspension on port operations.

Under BOC’s selectivity system, 20% of cargoes passing through BOC daily are directed to the green lane, 60% to the yellow lane, and 20% to the red lane, according to Management Information System and Technology Group deputy commissioner Gerardo Gambala.

Lapeña, in an earlier press briefing, said 130 containers undergo x-ray inspection daily, representing 8% of all containers handled by BOC every day, but the agency intends to increase the percentage to 25% or 300 containers. – Roumina Pablo

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