THE refiling of amendments to Republic Act 9280 or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004 at the Senate has encountered a hitch. This after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied the conduct of such a hearing at the Fort Bonifacio detention cell of Senator Antonio Trillanes.
Trillanes is charged with rebellion for his participation in the failed 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
The Senate Civil Service Committee, which Trillanes chairs, was to have conducted hearings on the proposed amendment last Friday. The AFP, however, denied entry of all participants, including Civil Service Commission (CSC) chief Karina David, into Trillanes’ detention cell.
The CSC is part of discussions on the proposed amendments specifically Sections 27 and 29 of RA 9280, which prohibit corporations from clearing at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The logistics community – led by the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines, Inc. and the Port Users Confederation — is lobbying to change the law to allow otherwise.
As of presstime, it was not clear whether the AFP will, in the future, allow Trillanes to conduct hearings on the 20 pending bills before his committee. His lawyers said they will petition to allow such.
Despite the setback, the logistics community remains optimistic that the amendments will pass this time. A lack of quorum prevented the passage of amendments in the last Congress.
The logistics community is having better luck at the Lower House. As early as July, the House of Representatives has conducted hearings involving at least three bills, House Bills 1733, 762 and 417, to amend Sections 27 and 29 of RA 9280.
The three bills focus on allowing brokerage houses and freight forwarders to secure accreditation and clear with the BOC as long as they hire at least one customs broker.