THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) is eyeing changes in its “boarding procedures” for incoming foreign vessels to protect its personnel from being infected and thereby becoming couriers of the ‘novel corona virus’ (nCOV).
In a talk with the media on Tuesday after the presentation of the bureau’s ‘10-Point Priority Program’ for 2020, Comm. Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero, said the procedures would be implemented as soon as they finished with their consultation with other concerned government agencies, particularly the Department of Health.
Guerrero made the announcement as the government continues to grapple with the new strain of corona virus that has already resulted to the death of one infected patient, a Chinese national, last week.
Under the law, the BoC is empowered to board arriving foreign vessels to check on their crews and their cargoes based on their shipping manifest.
“The concern is more on ‘human contact’ (between customs boarding personnel and crews of foreign vessels),” the customs chief said, noting official findings that nCOV is primarily transmitted thru person-to-person contact.
Guerrero also said procedures are already in place in the examination of imported shipments to include those coming from China, the country’s biggest trading partner in terms of volume.
The BoC has been tasked to collect over P731 billion this year, up by more than P70 billion from last year’s assigned target of more than P662 billion of which, only P631 were actually collected.
Guerrero said the BoC is still on a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude on whether nCOV would have an adverse effect on the bureau’s revenue collection performance, as well as the just-ended ‘Chinese New Year’ when most factories in mainland China are closed for the duration of the holiday.
Last month, Guerrero said the bureau failed to meet its more than P58 billion collection target with a shortfall of more than P2 billion.