A PHILIPPINE party-list representative on Monday said imports continue to be underdeclared, with many smuggled items getting through the Bureau of Customs using spurious documents.

“The very source of the perpetuation and perpetration of irregularities in the Bureau of Customs start with commercial invoice,” Party-list Rep. Rodante D. Marcoleta said at a House of Representatives hearing.

The congressman, who filed a measure that seeks to require that the value of imported goods in shipping and airline documents be declared, said these are the “most crucial information” on which taxes are based.

“This is where irregularities come in,” he added, noting that shippers could misdeclare, undervalue and misclassify imported items.

Under House Bill 178, which will amend the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, port collectors must ensure that hard copies and digitally transmitted copies of cargo manifest are consistent.

Requiring the carrier to declare the value of goods in the import documents allows the state to properly assess the duty, tax and other charges, according to the bill’s explanatory note.

Customs Director Yasser Ismail A. Abbas told the hearing they “fully support” the measure, but said the provisions should be added to Sec. 700 to 707 of the Customs Modernization law.

This will allow the state to question cases of wrong invoicing and other fraud, Customs Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip C. Maronilla told congressmen. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz