Customs puts up ‘alert clearing house’

Rey Leonardo Guerrero

BUREAU of Customs commissioner, Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero, announced he has created a “clearing house” to boost trade facilitation and combat graft in the agency by ensuring the implementation of ‘AOs’ (alert orders) “in accordance with the law.”

In a statement, Guerrero said the new unit is tasked to “address delays and ease the processing of alert orders through active monitoring of alerted shipments.”

The inspection and subsequent release of shipments slapped with an AO has long been the woe of waterfront stakeholders with each day of delay costing them huge amounts in additional charges slapped by the arrastre operators and international shipping lines, aside from the penalty imposed by the bureau once a “discrepancy” between the import declaration and the result of the physical inspection was found.

In one instance last December, a shipment of ceramic tiles with an assessed taxes and duties of P400,000 subjected to an AO had to pay nearly P2 million in additional charges to the arrastre operator and the shipping line before it was finally released in January.

Guerrero also bared the clearing house has “considerably improved” the bureau’s efficiency in processing alerted shipments.

He added that, to date, the BoC is now only monitoring 94 shipments subjected to an AO, a significant decrease from the previous 300 alerted shipments.

Guerrero also explained that the clearing house has “no authority” to issue an AO as this remains the prerogative of his office and the concerned district collector of customs.

A new “document management system” is now also being developed by the bureau to track the movement of records, files and documents, the customs chief said