BOC seeks more private sector input on advanced manifest system


The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is asking the private sector for more inputs on the implementation of the currently suspended advanced manifest system (AMS), Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group (AOCG) deputy commissioner Atty. Edward James Dy Buco confirmed to PortCalls in a text message.

The AMS implementation is on hold due to procedural concerns.

Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) president Atty. Ferdinand Nague, in a phone interview with PortCalls, said this collaboration with the private sector was decided after a meeting with BOC last week.

Earlier, Dy Buco said BOC created a technical working group, composed of BOC and CCBI as the private sector member, to work jointly to “arrive at an advance manifest system procedure acceptable and beneficial to all of us.”

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña in a memorandum dated May 29 suspended the implementation of Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 06-2018, which prescribes the operational guidelines for submitting in BOC’s AMS the advance manifest and other required documents by foreign carriers, shippers, consignees, accredited cargo-surveying companies, and authorized agents.

Dy Buco said the suspension was in response to the opposition of stakeholders to the new procedure that took effect immediately with the signing May 7 of CMO 06-2018.

Nague, meanwhile, said CCBI will be calling for a meeting with other stakeholders including the shipping lines, freight forwarders, and ship agents, which have concerns with some provisions of CMO 06-2018.

However, asked if a timeline was given to the private sector to come up with decisions and inputs, Nague said there was none.

Issues around AMS

Stakeholders have asked for the temporary suspension of the AMS implementation in order to resolve first the issues with the new procedure.

CCBI in an earlier letter asked Lapeña to defer the CMO, citing in particular Section 4.10, which states: “The carrier or its authorized agent shall obtain from the shipper the Commercial Invoice and Packing List for submission in searchable PDF to the Bureau’s Advance Manifest System at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the arrival of the vessel or aircraft.

“The consignee shall be held liable for non-compliance of the shipper and may be subject to the payment of imposable fines in accordance with existing customs laws and regulations without prejudice to whatever legal recourse the BOC may pursue against eh delinquent consignee.”

In seeking the deferment, CCBI president Atty. Ferdinand Nague explained that “the shipper and the consignee do not have a principal-agent relationship so as to bind one party to the misdeed or failure of the other. It would be highly unfair to penalize the consignee over a matter it has no full control of.”

“Moreover, since this CMO provides for a penalty provision for non-compliance, the same should have the approval of the Secretary of Finance and with prior public consultation,” he added.

In a position paper previously sent to BOC, Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association Inc. (PMTLAI) made a similar request “considering the many concerns and need for clarification in the CMO.”

Unnecessary work

PMTLAI also took note of Section 4.10, and stated that collection of commercial invoice and packing list from the consignees “will pose an unnecessary and heavy administrative work to the forwarders.”

“More importantly, the forwarders have no legal basis or right to demand these commercial documents, for the simple reason that we are not parties to these contracts.”

Equally important, PMTLAI said, is the fact that shippers are not principals of the consignees, inasmuch as the consignees are not agents of the shippers. “Therefore, it would be the height of injustice to penalize or impose a fine to the consignee for the neglect or omission of the shipper,” it added, recommending instead to require consignees to submit these documents directly to AMS.

On Section 4.6, which requires including the value of goods and freight charges as additional information in the manifest, PMTLAI noted that “forwarders, even international freight forwarders, are not parties to the purchase of goods” and therefore are not privy to the value of the goods agreed upon between the seller and the buyer.

On freight charges, PMTLAI requested making this information optional as there are instances when the principal does not share such information with their agents or representatives.

On Section 4.9 (Contents of the Bill of Lading), which requires stating the value of goods, freight charges, and insurance, PMTLAI noted that it is the principal or the non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) at origin that issues the B/L, and that the B/L cannot be provided by the freight forwarder. The association requested that this requirement be optional.

PMTLAI also said the value of goods and insurance is “entirely and exclusively between the shipper and the consignee.”

It added that freight forwarders have no knowledge as to the shipper-consignee arrangement, and proposes that this information be required from the shipper or consignee.

Confusion over penalties

During a forum organized by PortCalls on May 25, Port of Manila district collector Erastus Sandino Austria noted the “confusion” that developed at port level over how to apply the penalties under the CMO.

The order states that those that fail to provide the required information within the prescribed period would have to pay imposable fines prescribed under Section 1412 (failure to supply advance and requisite manifests) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

Under Section 1412, failure to transmit the electronic manifest within the time prescribed by BOC prior to the arrival of the carrying vessel or aircraft at the port of entry will make the owner, operator, or agent of the vessel or aircraft liable for a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P300,000.

However, Austria said there is no rule yet on the grounds for imposing a fine of, for example, just P100,000 and not P300,000.

CMO 06-2018 is pursuant to Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 01-2016, which requires the advance submission of cargo information to provide the BOC more time to assess incoming cargoes.

The new system allows qualified importers or their authorized representatives to process in advance the goods declaration before the shipment arrives and to determine the pre-assessed customs duties, taxes, other charges, and other documentary requirements.

AMS is different and separate from BOC’s electronic-to-mobile (e2m) system, which also requires submitting the electronic manifest. AMS requires the provision of cargo information for use in BOC’s risk management, anti-terrorism, law enforcement, and other related activities. – Roumina Pablo