By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, Feb. 24 (PNA) – A study conducted by the University of the Philippines has recommended the division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) functions as the sole authority to screen and monitor the imported products with other agencies.
The recommendation to divide the BOC functions with the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Health (DOH) and Trade and Industry (DTI) aims to promote the practice of counter-checking in all transactions related to importation.
”The BOC has the complete control of the process which has three functions such as safety and quarantine, revenue generation and trade facilitation,” Dr. Prudenciano Gordoncillo said in a Senate inquiry into rampant smuggling on Monday.
Gordoncillo is the leader of a team which conducted a study entitled: “An Assessment of Smuggling on Selected Agricultural Commodities in the Philippines” through the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, Laguna.
He suggested that the function of safety and quarantine should be delegated to DA and DOH, the trade facilitation to the DTI and the revenue generation to the BOC.
”These three functions have inherent counter-checking. If you put this in one institution, that counter-checking disappears,” Gordoncillo told the Senate panel.
Gordoncillo said their recommendations were based on the best practices being adopted by other countries, specifically Singapore and Indonesia.
In the Philippines, Gordoncillo said the BOC has the control of the X-ray machines placed in various ports of entry in the country.
”In other countries like Indonesia, other agencies have access to X-ray machines,” Gordoncillo said.
He also noted that other countries, specifically Indonesia, impose heavy penalties against smuggler.
”In the Philippines, we have a penalty of only 2.5 times the value of the smuggled goods. In Indonesia, it’s 1,000 percent in the penalty,” Gordoncillo said.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto agreed with the UP study to assure check and balance.
”They should separate some of these functions. It is not only check and balance but in our view, safety and quarantine is the prime interest in our country,” Recto said.
On the other hand, Senate Agriculture and Food committee chairperson Sen. Cynthia Villar said the recommendation is good “so that there will be check and balance.”
”But how to implement, it will be the problem. Hopefuly in the future, we can do that,” Villar said.
Villar said the Senate is hoping to come up with suggestions and legislative measures that would help curb the rampant smuggling in the country. (PNA)