BOC memo questioned on outright suspension of importers & brokers licenses

The House committee on ways and means, in a hearing conducted this week, questioned the process by which the Bureau of Customs (BOC) came out with a memorandum order which provides for the cancellation or suspension of the licenses of importers and custom brokers with cases in the past or present, in line with the agency's anti-smuggling and anti-corruption drive.

During the hearing presided by committee chairman Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino), House Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin asked if there was any legal basis involved in the process of issuing the memorandum issued by BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

Garin also questioned the relationship or connection between the memorandum and the license of the stakeholders.

Wouldn't it be the job of the accreditation (process) to suspend or seize the licenses?, Garin said.

The BOC officials explained that the memorandum can be used as a way to suppress cases of smuggling.

They further explained that licenses which were suspended can easily be reinstated. It will take more than two months for the license owners to get these back.

Garin, a lawyer, proposed that the BOC should first investigate the cases against the importers and customs brokers instead of outrightly suspending or cancelling their licenses. The BOC should also have evidence to support their claim in the suspension of licenses, she said.

Rep. Prospero Pichay, Jr. (1st District, Surigao del Sur) recommended that the BOC should immediately withdraw the memorandum order or they could face charges of graft and corruption since no due process was involved in the order of suspension.

Pichay also asked the BOC officials if there was connivance established in the cases of smuggling involving BOC personnel.

Rep. Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro) asked the BOC about the number of people suspended. The reported figure is 114, of whom 65 are being subjected to the usual procedure of the BOC.

Umali, chairman of the committee on justice, said the BOC should have informed the stakeholders about the ruling before issuing the memorandum order.

The committee directed the BOC to submit pertinent documents relative to the memorandum issuance.

The committee members also enjoined Faeldon to be present in the next hearing especially since he issued the memorandum.

Among the BOC officials present during the hearing were Deputy Commissioner for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group lawyer Edward Buco, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Teddy Sandy Raval, Director of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Retired Marine Col. Neil Estrella, and BOC Project Manager Atty. Althea Acas.

Source: House of Representatives

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