Business as usual after fire hits Customs bldg

February 23, 2019
Bureau of Customs

A FIRE of still unknown origin struck the historic main building of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) at the Port of Manila (POM) on Friday night, affecting vital offices directly related to its operations.

In a statement, however, Comm. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, gave assurances there will be no disruption of service to include its computerized assessment system (e2m), which was the agency’s main source of revenue collection.

Atty. Dino Austria, BoC spokesman, said initial investigation said the fire appears to have started at the third floor of the 4-storey building built by the Americans during the Commonwealth period.

The conflagration that swiftly spread reached fifth alarm before the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) declared “fire-out” past 7 a.m. the following day.

Affected by the fire are the office of the district collector, POM, the Assessment (FED) Division and, the offices of the Revenue Collection Monitoring Group (RCMG), Assessment Operation Coordinating Group (AOCG) and, Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG), among others.

The amount of the damage is yet to be determined as of this writing.

Austria said Guerrero had already issued directives to ensure that business at the waterfront would not be affected, with the Assessment Division to be temporarily housed at the BoC gymnasium.

Austria also said the “e2m” would be operational when official business opens on Tuesday and that no important documents were affected by the fire.

“Computer database is secure; e2m ‘recabling’ currently ongoing to put POM operational by Tuesday. Temporary areas are being fixed for offices (affected by the fire),” Austria said.

He added that no “advisory” for the “manual processing” of import entries have been issued by Guerrero.

Friday’s incident was the second to hit the BoC since June 2017, when a fire of still unknown origin also gutted the port’s “Security Warehouse” located just in front of the POM building.

The BFP and the BoC are yet to make public the result of the investigation into that incident.