Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » Customs chief orders talks with customs brokers on declarant provision

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Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero recently directed Revenue Collections and Monitoring Group deputy commissioner Atty Vener Baquiran to hold talks with the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) over the latter’s request to suspend implementation of Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 34-2019.

CMO 34-2019 allows non-customs brokers to sign as declarants. Specifically, the order provides rules on accreditation and registration of persons, other than the customs broker, who are entitled to act as declarant and sign the goods declaration for consumption, warehousing, and transit.

CCBI had written Guerrero on July 12 a letter urging him to “immediately recall” the order. CCBI president Adones Carmona said the CMO was issued without consulting stakeholders.

Asked if he is open to suspending CMO 34-2019, Guerrero told PortCalls in a text message, “no comment.”

Under CMO 34-2019, declarants may be the consignee or importer; exporter; customs broker acting under the authority of the importer or from a holder of the bill; the person who has the right to dispose of the goods; the holder of the bill of lading or airway bill duly indorsed by the shipping line or airline; or a person duly empowered to act as agent or attorney-in-fact for each holder.

The declarant provisions under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) were an issue even while the draft CMTA was still being deliberated in Congress as it makes optional the engagement of services of customs brokers two years after the passage of the CMTA.

In a separate letter to members entitled State of Customs Administration (SOCA) on July 22, Carmona said the organization’s board of directors has approved a week-long customs brokers’ holiday if the BOC does not suspend CMO 34-2019.

The SOCA was uploaded on the CCBI Facebook page.

Carmona claimed Guerrero and his former chief-of-staff Teodoro Jumamil had a “verbal agreement [with CCBI] not to push for the issuance of any regulation in relation to the declarant provision under 106(d) of CMTA in their term during one of our consultations together with CCBI officers.”

Guerrero, in a text message to PortCalls, denied the verbal agreement with CCBI.

Carmona encouraged “everyone to fight CMO 34-2019…to preserve the future generation of our profession.” He said implementing the CMO would affect 84 universities, schools, and colleges offering Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration, as well as the more than 2,000 BOC-accredited customs brokers.

In his July 12 letter, Carmona describes the CMO as authorizing non-customs brokers to “practice our beloved profession in direct contrast to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9280,” or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004.

While the use of customs brokers’ services is not practiced in some countries, RA 9280 mandates their use in the Philippines.

The CCBI president noted that CMO 34-2019 is “unfair and degrading to our profession.” He noted in particular how Section 11 of CMO 342019 “simply and deliberately instructs the declarant” to input in BOC’s electronic-to-mobile system area, which is intended for the PRC ID number of the customs broker, the entry “non-broker.”

“This completely negates the strict qualifications to become a customs broker required by RA 9280,” Carmona said.

He said the new order will have a chilling effect on the more than 11,000 licensed customs brokers all over the Philippines who had spent at least four years working toward a degree and another seven months to take and pass the customs brokers licensure examination. – Roumina Pablo

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