BOC readies auto switch off for electronic customs seal

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Photo from Bureau of Customs.
  • A solution to complaints about delays in disarming electronic customs seals on containerized cargo will be implemented soon by the Bureau of Customs
  • BOC Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Deputy Commissioner Vener Baquiran said the agency is developing an automatic “end trip” command into the electronic tracking system to disarm an ECS at the box destination
  • E-TRACC-recorded successful trips in 2022 reached 508,454, up from 295,928 trips in 2021

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will soon implement automatic disarming of electronic customs seal (ECS) when the container reaches its destination.

The move will address complaints of delays in ECS disarming due to lack of BOC personnel whose presence, under the current setup, is required when disarming the seal.

In the recent general membership meeting of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), Deputy Commissioner Vener Baquiran of the Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group said BOC is developing an automatic “end trip” command into the Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo (E-TRACC) System to disarm the ECS at the box destination.

Under Customs Memorandum Order No. 04-2020, which established the E-TRACC System, the “end trip” should first be authorized by BOC before the ECS is disarmed at the destination.

BOC is now coordinating with the E-TRACC System developer to allow automatic “end trip”, considering the BOC is able to monitor when the container has reached its destination, Baquiran said.

On repeated calls to exempt exports from the coverage of E-TRACC, Baquiran said during the open forum that removing E-TRACC would mean a return to underguarding.

RELATED READ: Port users seek suspension of E-TRACC implementation on exports

Baquiran asked exporters to help justify the exemption and promised to discuss the issue with policymakers.

In earlier position papers submitted to BOC, Philexport and the Customs Bonded Warehouse Operators Confederation Inc. recommended the suspension of E-TRACC implementation on exports, saying the system is “unnecessary and unreasonable” and will cause delays and entail additional costs. Besides, export cargoes, they said, are destined for specific markets and are unlikely to be diverted.

E-TRACC is a web-based system launched in 2020 that tracks the inland movement of containerized cargoes during transit and transfer to other customs territories and facilities. It allows BOC to track, monitor, and audit the location and condition of cargoes, as well as obtain real-time alarms on diversion and tampering with cargoes.

RELATED READ: BOC orders e-tracking of cargoes in transit

Under CMO 04-2020, an ECS is required during the transfer of cargo to a container yard/container freight station (CY/CFS) or other customs facilities and warehouses; transit of cargo bound for Free Zones, inland customs office, depots, or terminals; transit to CBWs; export of cargo from Free Zones, inland customs office, depots or terminals, and CBWs to port of loading; and transfer of shipments subject to further verification and/or monitoring.

All container vans covered by CMO 04-2020 should be affixed with an ECS before being cleared to depart from the starting point or point of discharge for the voyage to the end point or point of destination.

Except when warranted under CMO 04-2020, customs cargo clearance must be fully completed before any shipment can be sealed with an ECS.

BOC Warehousing Coordination Division acting chief Sha Hariyal Otto in a presentation during the same Philexport meeting showed E-TRACC successful trips in 2022 reached 508,454 from 295,928 trips in 2021, and 60,454 trips in its first year of implementation in 2020.

In 2020, the system was implemented in various dates in six collection districts, namely Port of Manila, Batangas, Manila International Container Port, Cebu, Clark, and Subic.

In 2021, Cagayan De Oro and Davao followed suit, and in 2022, the subport of General Santos (previously Dadiangas).

The system is now being implemented in 19 CY/CFS, 209 CBWs, 346 cold storage facilities, 109 economic zones, and 19 condemnation facilities. – Roumina Pablo