Sunday, November 28, 2021
HomeCustoms & TradePH Customs broking profession polishes its image

PH Customs broking profession polishes its image

SULLIED by gross mistakes some colleagues had made and negative public perception about their role in trade facilitation, Filipino customs brokers are mounting a campaign to project the importance of their profession and clear it of the stigma caused by misfits in their ranks.

Customs brokers admit they have been hit by recent reports of colleagues being linked to smuggling, the latest of which was about one of their own being charged along with Phoenix Petroleum for alleged oil smuggling.

But the most controversial case was that of about 1,700 containers of imported goods vanishing in thin air while being trucked to Batangas City, two hours south of the Philippine capital Manila, in 2011. This led to national outrage that fuelled lawmakers’ push for a revamp of the Customs and Tariff Act.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed and transmitted to the Senate House Bill 4788, or the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act (CTMA), which seeks to amend the Customs and Tariff Code of the Philippines.

One provision in the CTMA, in the view of customs brokers, threatens to kill their profession. In Section 110 of the CTMA, the declarant provision allows individual importers and firms to assign persons other than the customs brokers to prepare import declarations, doing by themselves the assessing and computing of taxes due on imported goods.

This provision has unsettled the profession.

“As customs brokers, we are vital to the supply chain,” said Jeanette Maala-Roxas, executive director of the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. (CCBI).

“We view that provision as detrimental to our profession as customs brokers; it is also detrimental to the government,” she said.

Joseph Tabirara, CCBI corporate secretary, wondered how an ordinary person can correctly assess and compute the right tax on imports as accurately as a trained, licensed custom broker.

He said the provision “is going to affect the profession as Sec. 110’s declarant provision allows single proprietorships to declare the duties themselves and, for corporations, only by their authorized responsible officers.

“We are waging this battle because we are affected; secondly, other people are not aware of what we’re doing, a very difficult job that importers nearly don’t want to do… customs broking is a learned profession, we studied it for four years, then suddenly we have this problem.”

Another issue that incenses customs brokers is statements made by Bureau of Customs people that brokers are generally corrupt. While admitting that some misbehaving colleagues had tarnished the profession, the brokers say they are hurt by allegations that they are all rotten – especially from staff of a government agency seen as the most corrupt.

On one occasion last year, Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said the agency had enhanced its campaign against smugglers “to get convictions for those charged with smuggling.

“And customs brokers are usually involved whenever an attempt to smuggle goods into the country is undertaken. This is the reason why every time an importer is charged for smuggling, the importer’s broker is usually included in the charge sheet.”

The customs brokers said erring members of the profession are dealt with accordingly by the Professional Regulation Commission, which investigates and revokes their licenses if found guilty. Criminal cases are also filed against them, the brokers said.

Tabirara said the CCBI has been vigorously waging the campaign against the unwanted provision of HB 4788.

There are lobbyists who want to cut the customs brokers out of the picture, and CCBI is responding to that.  “Now CCBI has plans to hang posters and flyers stating that we should be the group to talk to by would-be importers,” Tabirara said.

“We have been sending manifestoes and letters to the senators to fight for our cause,” he said.

Just recently, he said, he went all the way to Cagayan de Oro to take up the brokers’ concerns with Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his co-authors in the bill –Reps. Reynaldo Umali and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr.

Tabirara said the congressmen didn’t seem to understand the importance of the customs broking profession. And yet, the bill was passed in haste.

After CCBI’s representations, the Senate decided to investigate to understand the role of the brokers and will return the bill to the Lower House.

“I heard it will be considered as a priority bill by the 16th Congress,” Tabirara said.

The CCBI comprises customs brokers who belong to various groups with different plans and agendas, “but they share the same goal that we have in CCBI,” he said.

The country has produced 7,000 to 8,000 customs brokers who went through four years in university to take up the course. Of this number, only over 2,000 are active. There are about 4,000 graduates of the course yearly, but only 300 to 400 pass the board exams each year.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /


  1. The challenge to Customs Brokers group is how they will truly unite as one. How they will police their rank? How they will offer rewards to good members? How they will issue position and what statements to say in media when one member violates the sworn duty ?


    To be trusted, you need to be honest. To be honest you need to be true. To be true, you need to be yourself !

  2. There are people seems lobbying for the total abolition of Customs Broker profession in the Philippines. Bad images are being showered to this profession by these people to keep them (CB)under fire. Among the Three authors of the Bill, another lawyer (Rep. Reynaldo Umali) was a former Customs official during the Gloria Arroyo administration who handled the Customs Brokers Accreditation division of the Bureau of Customs. He is seemingly in his objective to eliminate the CB profession because they are corrupt or was it because of great dictate of money from multinational business monopoly? A lawyer by profession cannot practice the customs broker profession unless he studied the course and passed the licensure examination plus the experience in working it. A Customs Broker is unequally knowledgeable individual than lawyers if we deal on Tariff and Customs matters. Lawyers do not know how to classify commodities, compute duties and taxes rightfully due to the government. If Customs Broker successfully eliminated by this law, who will protect the government from the business sectors engaging in importation and exportation? Can these lawyers knowledgeable enough to take over? I do not believed corruption was just the lone reason why they proposed the bill and I am fully aware that the CMTA is in adherence to the Kyoto Convention, but, how come the authors of the bill didn’t mind even some small degrees of concern on the future of Customs Brokers? They are professionals,too. Customs Brokers are partner of the government and a great contributor to our economy. There are lots of Customs Broker living in poverty even though they are in this field of profession. What if I propose too a bill seeking the abolition of lawyer profession because of large-scale corruption in our government and because the involve are lawyers? Do you know where they can be found are? would people think and agree with me that it is rational? Really, who is the corrupt, a Customs Broker or politicians alike? Your guess is as good as mine…

  3. You are totally right Mr.Singhco.
    Attention lawyers, try to process import entry in the
    Bureau of Customs without disclosing your official,officer or Professional character without any money for the so called S.O.P
    then you will see who is corrupt.

  4. I totally agree to what Mr. Singcho said. I think customs brokers doesn’t really want this kind of “kalakaran” it is just the nature of the CB to fulfil the clients/importers/customs officials wants even though it might put them in the bad light.Actually,some of them (CB)really don’t know that importers is also misleading them by not disclosing the true nature and value of goods they are importing and to make it worst they tried to persuade the CB to clear it for them in exchange of higher pay or returns.


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