Customs moves to speed up action on flagged shipments

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container truck Port of Manila

THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) will be setting up a special desk that will track alerted shipments, as the agency intensifies its watch on illegal imports.

In a statement yesterday, the bureau said that Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero has ordered the formation of an Alert Order Clearing House Desk in order to “address delays and ease the processing of alert orders through active monitoring of alerted shipments.”

It explained that formation of this post forms part of implementation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

Alerted shipments refer to those which are temporarily held by Customs authorities due to “derogatory information” received about the cargo.

This will warrant a delay in the release of goods concerned pending the conduct of physical inspection to verify such reports.

Customs Memorandum Order 07-2018 issued by former commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña states that only the Customs chief, district collectors and other officials authorized in writing by the commissioner can issue alert orders.

Once alerted, Customs officials may conduct physical or non-intrusive examination on the shipments within 48 hours after an alert order was issued. Should they find irregularities, the bureau is authorized to seize the items or collect additional duties or taxes from the importer.

Mr. Guerrero said they expect the clearing houses to improve efficiency in processing flagged shipments, noting that the number of such cases has seen a “significant” decline so far. The bureau has lately been addressing 94 alert orders, down from over 300 previously.

The bureau has been tightening rules to strengthen its watch on imports and exports. Last month, the bureau also imposed a new rule requiring truck-for-hire companies to register with it before they can continue ferrying goods from ports to Customs facilities and warehouses, freezones, consignee premises or exit ports. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez