Philippine importers seeking to import critical goods needed to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak can now apply online for a license to operate (LTO) from the Bayanihan One Stop Shop (BOSS).
The one-stop shop was created by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01-2020.
The circular covers all commercial imports of personal protective equipment and specific medical devices determined as “COVID-19 Critical Commodities” by the Department of Health (DOH) and requiring a LTO from FDA.
BOSS serves as a single window and concierge for all government agencies involved—specifically BOC and FDA—in the importation of COVID-19 critical commodities. Normally, imports of COVID-19 critical commodities regulated by the FDA require the issuance of the relevant LTO to the importer and registration or notification of every health product to be imported unless explicitly exempted. The importer must then present the LTO and/or Certificate of Product Registration (CPR)/Notification to BOC for the latter to clear the commodities for entry into the country.
Under JMC 01-2020, systems and portals of the BOC, FDA, and ARTA are interconnected to enable end-to-end processing and monitoring of applications.
All transactions with FDA and BOC will be done through the following websites:
- FDA LTO application: http://boss.fda.gov.ph/applications
- BOC application for clearance and release of shipment: http://client.customs.gov.ph/index.php
ARTA will act as general coordinator for “the seamless processing and exchange of information between and across the agencies concerned.”
JMC 01-2020 does not cover the clearance of relief consignments entered during a state of calamity as this is already covered by Joint Administrative Order No. 01-2020 dated March 16, 2020.
BOSS started operating on April 3 and will be in effect until the state of national emergency exists or until otherwise required by the President.
JMC 01-2020 notes that despite streamlining efforts by concerned government agencies, “bottlenecks and challenges in the importation process remain.”
JMC 01-2020 underscores the confusion and misinformation of the public regarding procedures for commercial importation of critical commodities by private entities. It also observes that the agencies continued to operate under a “silo system,” whereby applicants need to transact with individual government agencies separately, “even if [the agencies] are part of the entire importation process.” – Roumina Pablo