The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is eyeing the codification and harmonization of all its memos and implementing rules to make access to such information easier and more transparent for both stakeholders and customs personnel.
As part of its 10-point priority program for this year, BOC will publish a manual of all its implementing rules and regulations as well as a handbook outlining employee duties and responsibilities.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero in a recent press briefing said the move is important since it provides stakeholders a “ready reference guide, complete manual that would contain all of the necessary information about the rules and regulations, policies, and procedures.”
“So it will be very useful for them because they do not have to go to other reference materials because there would [only] be one,” Guerrero said.
BOC spokesperson Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria, in a recent presentation to the Lower House Committee on Ways and Means, said “clearing up and integrating the many rules and regulations that help execute our mandate will provide clear and accessible guidelines for all parties concerned, both for the stakeholders as well as our personnel.”
Currently, there are numerous customs administrative and memorandum orders, customs memorandum circulars, unnumbered memos, customs special orders, joint administrative orders, and other issuances that date back years.
Stakeholders can either go to BOC’s main office in Port Area, Manila or its district offices for physical copies of the regulations, or visit the bureau’s website or the Aduana e-library for electronic copies. However, BOC sometimes takes time to upload the regulations to its website and e-library.
BOC had made previous attempts to provide stakeholders and BOC frontliners a single document for viewing all necessary requirements and procedures, particularly for importing regulated products.
In 2015 during the time of then customs commissioner John Philip Sevilla, BOC released its first Customs Regulated Imports List (CRIL) of more than 7,000 regulated import products, their corresponding import regulations, and the permits required by relevant trade regulatory agencies.
Before CRIL, importers and traders of regulated products were in the dark as to what permits to apply for, with no single source of information regarding this. BOC frontliners could only rely on experience for information, or just told importers to check with the various other trade regulatory government agencies.
After CRIL was implemented in 2015, improvements have been recorded in the use of BOC’s selectivity system, which categorizes imports and is part of BOC’s risk management system.
Before CRIL was released, data from November 2014 showed that shipments on the green lane accounted for 15% of the total, those on the yellow lane accounted for 53%, on the red lane 24%, and on the super green lane 8%.
In June 2015, two months after CRIL was implemented, cargoes on the green lane increased to 40%, yellow lane shipments dropped to 33%, and on the red lane fell to 19%; super green lane shipments remained at 8%.
Updated last year, CRIL is available online at the Philippine National Trade Repository website (www.pntr.gov.ph). – Roumina Pablo