BOC Has New System; Will it Work?

By Chito Junia

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña is practically moving heaven and earth to curb corruption and smuggling in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

He has ordered the strict enforcement of the “No Tara” policy, scrapped benchmarking, subjected all loaded containerized vans to x-ray scanning, and suspended the green lane. And now, to further enhance the bureau’s anti-smuggling efforts, particularly in scrapping benchmarking, the bureau has adopted a new queuing and status verification system (SVS) that will enable customs clients to monitor the status of entry documents submitted to the Formal Entry Division (FED).

Under the SVS, valuation of imported goods can be monitored once the examiners or appraisers input the data in the system, whether the particular shipment was benchmarked or grossly undervalued.

While under the new queuing system, customs clients no longer have to file their entries with a particular section among FED’s 15 sections, but to a filing window 

where they will have no way of knowing the assigned examiner to review their documents.

 

No To ‘Suki’ System

Lapeña expects the new queuing system to stop the earlier practiced “suki” system in the bureau, the system that breeds corruption as some customs officials and importers collude to cheat the government of its much-needed revenues.

The new system can test the competence and efficiency of the examiners to implement the new customs law and regulations under RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

“There will be no more ‘suki’ system, the broker will not know the assigned examiner removing the possibility of conspiracy between both parties,” Lapeña said.

We are still studying what operational procedure we can use to replace the FED Section, “the memorandum will follow next week once the testing is done,” he added.

For his part, Port of Manila District Collector Ernelito G. Aquino said operational testing is being done for one week at the Port of Manila to check if we can use it once FED sections are

removed.

 

Smuggling Continues

Smuggling and corruption at BOC thrive because of the wide latitude of discretion by customs examiners in determining the values of importations. And whether benchmarking or transaction value, so long as customs examiners have that discretion and that the real values of importations are not made transparent to the real importers, not the brokers or players, smuggling will still continue at the bureau.

With the new measures of Lapeña, corruption and smuggling at Customs could be lessened.

Smugglers and corrupt customs officials always find ways to circumvent almost all measures. From outright smuggling to the various methods of technical smuggling, players and corrupt customs officials have a wide latitude of discretion as well, in terms of choosing the mode of smuggling they can use to get their shipment into the country, illegally.

Remember the case of the 2,000 missing containers in 2011?

Using the now extinct “Swing” method of smuggling, the government lost billions worth of duties and taxes for said shipment. Fortunately for the government, former Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) Director for Administration Jeffrey Patawaran was able to get copies of the import entries pertaining to 20 containers of the over 2,000 missing containers at the Port of Batangas.

Patawaran’s discovery of the import documents eventually led to the full investigation of the missing containers. Otherwise, the case could just have been swept under the rug.

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