Home » Customs & Trade » Nague is elected CCBI president; lifting of BIR accreditation high on his agenda

Lawyer Ferdinand Nague has been elected 2017-2019 national president of the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI), the nationally accredited association of customs brokers in the Philippines.

Nague, former chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board for Customs Brokers under the Professional Regulation Commission, is joined by new vice presidents Atty. Joseph Romano (government affairs), Atty. Norberto Castillo (professional development), Samuel Bautista (international affairs), and Maria Theresa Santos (internal affairs).

Elected as executive vice president is Adones Carmona while Antonio Bilazon is the new secretary. Lani Gallino is the chamber’s new treasurer, Michael Tede is auditor, and Michael Mertalla is the PRO.

Directors of the chamber include Jose Jefferson Bajao, immediate past president Dennis Del Pilar, Samson Gabisan, Elen Pasion, and Florecita Tagle.

Nague, in an interview with PortCalls on the sidelines of the new board’s meeting last week, said one of his priorities is to uphold the Customs Brokers Act of 2004 and lift the accreditation requirement in order for customs brokers to transact with the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Nague said that under the law, customs brokers need not apply for another license to practice their profession. He noted that a Supreme Court case had also ruled in favor of customs brokers.

The new CCBI president said he intends to work on removing the accreditation requirement of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), basically requiring licensed customs brokers to just register with BOC. Under the current accreditation process, importers and customs brokers need to secure clearance first with BIR and then proceed to BOC.

Nague also intends to have a dialogue with BOC regarding its recent listing of customs brokers for suspension. He explained that customs brokers should not be suspended when their importers violate customs rules and regulations because the problem is usually “on the importation (and) we are not the one importing.”

“We are only the brokers,” Nague pointed out, adding that there is also a Supreme Court decision (Remigio versus Sandiganbayan) that customs brokers are only limited to processing importation based on documents provided by the importer.

Amending declarant provision

Another priority for Nague under his term is the filing of a bill to amend the declarant provision of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). Under the new law, engaging the services of customs brokers becomes optional two years after the law has been passed. CMTA was signed into law in 2016.

Nague said allowing attorneys-in-fact or any other representative to make the declaration is “going back to the old thing (practices).” He added this “will intensify smuggling” because non-professionals in the customs field may falsify documents since “after all, they don’t have a license” to protect. He said this will “encourage more irregularity rather than regularity and compliance.”

Customs broker groups have opposed the declarant provision since the start of hearing for the CMTA bills in Congress.

But even with the current declarant provision in place, Nague echoes the belief of other customs brokers that their services will still be needed because of the complexities of customs processes.

Meanwhile, CCBI will continue to plan more workshops and trainings as part of the mandatory continuation of professional education for customs brokers.

Nague said he wants to invite the International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations, a representative of customs brokers all over the world, to take part in their seminars and dialogues and update local brokers of changes in the international trade environment to make them globally competitive as well. – Roumina Pablo

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