A LEGISLATOR said Sunday that Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero can be held liable for graft and corruption, and for violating the Code of Conduct of Government Employees, if he continues to insist on implementing the Bureau’s National Valuation Verification System (NVVS).
“We expect on Monday that the Committee on Ways and Means will again direct the Customs officials to cease and desist the implementation of the illegal NVVS. Any further inaction may force Congress to either hold the Bureau in contempt of Congress and the filing of necessary charges in the Ombudsman for graft and corruption,” PBA Party List Jericho Jonas B. Nograles said in a statement.
The Committee on Ways and Means, citing its oversight powers, has “properly investigated and concluded” that the NVVS is illegal as it is not found in the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Mr. Nograles said.
The committee has twice officially advised the commissioner in writing to cease and desist from implementing the NVVS which allowed for the “unequal levying of same goods in multiple instances,” he added.
“The evidence clearly shows that the same commodities charged differently. The inconsistencies only mean that there is corruption in the NVVS system,” the congressman said.
He said that despite the clear declaration of the House Committee on Ways and Means that NVVS has “no lawful basis, and therefore illegal,” the Customs commissioner continues to implement it “on the false pretext that it is only used as reference and not a replacement of the transaction value of imported goods.”
“The memoranda issued to Customs workers are consistent in the strict implementation of the NVVS system. Why is this? Mukhang merong pinapaboran at pinoprotektahan. (It looks like someone is being favored and protected) Pagkatapos ng Green Lanes ng previous Commissioner, ang panibagong diskarte ay ang NVVS (After the previous commissioner’s Green Lanes system, the new ploy is NVVS). This NVVS is a tool for extortion for some corrupt Customs people,” Mr. Nograles said.
He said his office has evidence dealing with the inconsistencies of tariff assessments under the NVVS and he will disclose the same at the upcoming committee meetings.
Vincent Philip C. Maronilla, BoC assistant commissioner heading the Post Clearance Audit Group, said that the Bureau has sent its reply to the committee through its chairman, Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda.
“We already wrote our reply to the Committee through Chairman Salceda. But we want to assure the Honorable Committee that we will abide by any guidance or directive they may have after considering our reply,” Mr. Maronilla told Businessworld in a Viber message on Sunday.
According to the BoC website, NVVS is a web-based system which BoC Assessment officers may use to verify whether the value declared by the importer is the “price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to the Philippines.”
It further noted that value verification is based on previous importation “similar and identical goods at the same period of importation, and other methods of valuation available under Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.”
NVVS and other computer system projects by the BoC were implemented in June 2019. — Genshen L. Espedido