Licensed customs brokers no longer need to secure accreditation from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) under certain circumstances.
The PPA Board of Directors in a meeting on August 13 “concurred with the exemption of licensed customs brokers from securing accreditation from PPA” subject to some conditions, said PPA general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago in a letter to the Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PCBAPI), copy furnished to the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI).
The exemption applies to customs brokers with a valid license issued by the Professional Regulation Commission for Customs Brokers (PRCCB).
The customs broker should also not be engaged in port service and port ancillary service that requires accreditation from PPA. He/she should also not be applying for a Permit to Occupy for purposes of leasing an office within the port or be currently holding office inside the port.
Further, the customs broker is not exempted from port security/gate procedures and must secure pedestrian/vehicle pass.
Santiago’s letter, dated September 17, is in response to PCBAPI’s letter last August requesting for exemption from accreditation, a requirement under PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 06-2019.
AO 06-2019, which took effect on August 7, requires all port service providers to secure accreditation from PPA before the port services contract or permit to operate (PTO) is awarded. Some stakeholders, specifically those previously not required to seek accreditation, have asked for exemption from the new policy.
Out of coverage
CCBI president Adones Carmona, in a letter dated August 6, said customs brokers are not considered port service providers. He noted that their profession “is not covered by the scope and coverage under Section 2 of PPA AO 06-2019.” This, he said, is because customs brokers’ scope of practice “is clearly provided under Section 6 of RA (Republic Act) 9280 (The Customs Brokers Act of 2004) which is only associated to imported and exported goods under Customs jurisdiction.”
He also cited how former PPA general manager Atty. Oscar Sevilla, in his letter to the PCBAPI dated March 29, 2010, ruled that, under PPA AO 08-96 and AO 13-77, customs brokers were exempt from the requirement to secure a PTO.
Carmona noted that under no circumstance has AO 06-2019 changed the practice of customs brokers, whose profession is already regulated by the PRCCB.
Carmona said PPA’s requirement of accreditation even when customs brokers already comply with the accreditation policy of the Bureau of Customs “would run counter to President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy in streamlining processes in government transactions and the essence of RA 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act.”
Aside from customs brokers, truckers and domestic shipping lines are also seeking exemption from accreditation under AO 06-2019.
Truckers, forwarders plea for exemption
The Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines in a letter to PPA reiterated its opposition to the inclusion of truckers in the accreditation requirement, reasoning out that truckers are already complying with regulations of many other regulatory government agencies.
Meanwhile, Philippine Liner Shipping Association, in a letter, sought clarification on the new order, saying it was issued without prior public consultation.
The group noted that while shipping lines, owing to the nature and peculiarity of their business, need to be within the port or pier, they are considered more as “port users availing of most of the services offered at the port rather than port services providers, per se.”
Santiago earlier said the new accreditation policy was issued because the agency needed to “know who are inside the port. We need to make sure na yung pumapasok dyan [those who enter there] we properly vetted them, that they are running a legitimate business, that they have a legitimate reason why they are in the port.”
PPA Port Operations and Services Department manager Lilian Javier recently said the port authority will study whether the PTO requirement can be merged with the new accreditation process under AO 06-2019. And if the PTO will still be required, the agency will see what changes can be done depending on requirements of ports and their localities and on whether they need the same documents required for accreditation. – Roumina Pablo