The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) are forming a technical working group (TWG) for the creation of a BOC Complex at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBZ) to house the customs agency’s office and a Customs Academy.
The creation of the TWG is part of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña and SBMA chair and administrator Atty. Wilma Eisma last January 25.
BOC and SBMA aim to jointly establish and develop a BOC Complex that will contain the BOC offices, a Customs Academy with dormitory facilities, and a customs clearance area. The MOA said this move will further enhance doing business at the port and turn it into the premier international port of the Philippines.
Under the agreement–effective for five years, with option to renew for another five–SBMA will contribute the land while BOC will shoulder the cost of infrastructure.
The TWG will consist of SBMA and BOC personnel who will recommend the proposed site and conceptual plan for the BOC Complex. BOC and SBMA may enter into a new agreement when it comes to establishing the complex.
Subic is one of the recommended sites for a customs academy as envisioned under the World Bank’s proposed Philippines Customs and Trade Facilitation Project, which BOC supports. The project, which has yet to be approved by the WB Board and the Philippine government, aims to support the country’s export-led economic growth by assisting BOC in reducing trade costs, improving transparency, and increasing revenue collection.
The MOA stipulates BOC’s and SBMA’s roles in maintaining BOC Subic’s office and dormitory at SBFZ.
Under Republic Act (RA) No. 7227 and its implementing rules and regulations, it is a declared policy of the SBMA to operate and manage SBF as a separate customs territory. Under Customs Administrative Order No. 4-93, issued in 1993, on the other hand, BOC and SBMA shall be responsible for establishing and maintaining offices within the secured area of the zone whenever necessary to conduct customs operations efficiently.
Under the MOA, SBMA will provide BOC Subic with office spaces and assign one housing unit, with the custom agency paying the unpaid utilities as well as other charges from services rendered by SBMA.
The Freeport authority will allow BOC Subic real-time viewing access of footage from CCTV cameras to be installed at vital entry and exit points of Subic Bay Freeport.
BOC Subic, for its part, will supervise customs operations involving admission to the secured area of the Freeport zone and removal of goods from the area, and other customs operations to be determined by both the customs commissioner and SBMA administrator.
BOC Subic will also ensure that the office spaces and housing unit provided by SBMA are properly used and that the bureau will undertake repairs of facilities as needed. – Roumina Pablo