Home » Customs & Trade, Exclusives, Ports/Terminals » BOC set to act on request to relocate customs clearance area within Mindanao Container Terminal

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is finalizing its decision on the request of Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) stakeholders to return the designated examination area/customs clearance area (DEA/CCA) inside the terminal.

“We’re just finalizing things,” BOC’s X-ray Inspection Project head Atty. Czae Carrie De Guzman told PortCalls in a recent chance interview. She added there is already a proposal to find a new location for the DEA/CCA that will “most likely” be where the stakeholders want it situated–within the MCT premises.

She did not provide a timetable for the final decision, noting that there was still an “issue involved.” She did not elaborate.

Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña earlier told PortCalls that BOC was already studying the request of stakeholders and determining “what is the most beneficial to the Bureau of Customs and accomplishing all [that] is needed to be done.” He added that the contract between BOC and the private operator concerning the examination area was also under study.

BOC recently created a technical working group (TWG) to address the request of MCT stakeholders to transfer the DEA/CCA from outside MCT to within the terminal. The TWG is composed of representatives from XIP, Assessment and Operations Coordinating Working Group, Legal Service, Revenue Collection Monitoring Group, and Port Operations Service of BOC.

PIEMO (Phividec Industrial Estate-Misamis Oriental) Industries Association, Inc. (PIA), a group of locators and service providers doing business at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental, through its president Augustus Adis, wrote Lapeña last December requesting for the return of the x-ray inspection of containers to the MCT area so as to avoid additional charges.

READ: Mindanao Container Terminal users press anew for return of x-ray inside port premises

According to Adis, “MCT port is handicapped due to additional charges borne by the shippers.”

The x-ray inspection of containers is currently carried out in a privately operated DEA/CCA located outside the terminal.

“Every time a cargo is brought to the CCA/DEA area, additional charges are imposed. These additional charges do not go to the government treasury and instead [are] collected by the private operator,” Adis pointed out.

Terminal users have clamored for the return of the DEA/CCA within MCT premises for years now, claiming irregularities in the DEA/CCA after it was placed outside the container yard during former customs chief Rozzano Rufino Biazon’s term.

READ: Return xrays to Mindanao port premises, shippers press BOC

The DEA is covered by an agreement, signed by the BOC and the private operator Golden Sun Cargo Examination Services Corp., the original copy of which could reportedly not be traced.

Lapeña is the fourth customs commissioner asked by PIA to return inspection inside MCT premises.

Since 2014, PIA has been asking succeeding customs commissioners to intervene. Former commissioners John Phillip Sevilla, Alberto Lina, and Nicanor Faeldon had all agreed to PIA’s request and issued orders to return the DEA/CCA inside MCT, but Golden Sun still continues to operate outside the terminal.

PIA earlier noted that under Executive Order No. 592, signed 2006 and establishing the non-intrusive container inspection system, x-ray inspections should be confined inside the port area.

MCT is the lone Philippine port with a different arrangement, which PIA, in its 2015 letter to Lina, claimed made DEA/CCA “prone to corruption.” A similar setting established in another Mindanao terminal did not last long.

PIA said the additional charges imposed on importers under this setup consist of hustling, lift-on/lift-off, stuffing, stripping, and parking fees. Exporters, on the other hand, pay extra parking fee per container. There are also fees for security warehousing, open space, and forklift rentals.

Moreover, PIA said, these charges are higher than the P2,290.50 levied by the Philippine Ports Authority-Mindanao for the same services.

When x-ray inspections used to be conducted inside the MCT port, shippers did not have to pay these excess charges, PIA said.

The DEA/CCA location was transferred outside the MCT grounds in 2013 through Customs Memorandum Orders 18-96A and 17-2008.

“Even with minimal movement, for as long as the cargo is within CCA premises, the charges are the same,” PIA had said in its letter to Lina.

Aside from approaching BOC, PIA has written other government agencies since 2014 to call their attention to this concern. – Roumina Pablo


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