By Betheena Kae Unite
Removing customs brokers from the process of trade facilitation would affect the release of shipments and will need a change in the whole process, the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc.(CCBI) said Friday.
“Kapag ini-stop ‘yung broker, then mag-stop yung releasing ng cargoes, magkakaroon ng delay (If they remove the brokers, the releasing of cargoes will also stop that would lead to delay); they need to change the system if that happens,” CCBI President Adones Carmona said.
The statement was made by the customs organization in reaction to President Duterte’s statement that corruption would be reduced if customs brokers are taken out from the system.
“Brokers are always part of the data. ‘Yung sa declaration nandun talaga kami, hindi mawawala yun,e. (We are part of the process of the declaration of goods; we can not be removed),” he said.
“’Yun pa lang e, parang ang hirap isipin na matanggal kami sa equation tapos hindi mo puwedeng ideklara ‘yung import entry based on the information, based on the shipping document, hindi lang basta-basta ideklara yan (It’s really hard to think that our part in the process will be taken out because you could not just declare an import entry based on the information or shipping document alone),” Carmona explained.
“We have RA 9280 the Customs Brokers Act of 2004, protecting our profession, specifically under section 6 — it is only brokers who may lodge, who may file, who may sign, process the general declaration or previously known as the import entry,” the official said.
The impact of removing customs brokers will not stop at trade facilitation, Carmona said. It will also displace the 11,900 licensed customs brokers in the country and affect numerous students taking up Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration in 85 different universities nationwide.
“We hope and pray that it would not happen because we have at present 11,900 members who are licensed customs brokers, who went through four years of studies and took the board examination. That is the impact because there is always a chain reaction,” Carmona stressed.
The group believes that the President was not given the whole story, saying: “We are not the source of corruption.”
The CCBI said fixers and players are the ones to blame for the lingering corruption in the bureau.
“No, we are not the major source of corruption. We are professionals. I believe he is referring to financiers. He is referring to players, fixers, not the brokers,” Carmona said.
“It’s only the customs brokers’ name that appears on the document but he is not the one to be blamed for the corruption,” Carmona added pointing to the fixers and players in collusion with customs officers.
According to Customs Broker Jerry Reyes, CCBI auditor, the Bureau of Customs is flocked with fixers and players, who pose as customs brokers in order to carry out a deal with importers. These players would later use a legitimate customs brokers’ name in exchange for a “blinding amount of money,” he said.
“The men behind these brokers should be the subject of crackdown,” Carmona said.
The officers revealed that offers made by fixers and players range from P10,000 weekly to P50,000 a month, which looks “very appealing and blinding especially to the new brokers.”
The CCBI is now communicating with the President to explain their side of the story as they vowed to clean their ranks and discipline their members.