Earlier this morning, Customs brokers reacted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to remove them from the Customs bureau, saying “the President should faithfully execute laws and not to prevent the execution of laws.”
“That means, if there is a law and it’s been in the implementing stage…the President cannot just put a stop to the implementation of that law. That would be a violation, not only of the law itself but also the constitution,” Norberto Castillo of the Customs Brokers Association said.
Republic Act No. 9280 or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004 is the guide of the licensed brokers in doing their job.
The abolishment of brokers in the Bureau of Customs (BOC), according to Carmona, would negatively affect a lot of sectors in the government. He hopes that Congress would contemplate before agreeing to what the President wants.
Brokers out from BOC
Carmona said if the President wants to combat corruption in the agency, brokers should not be the ones getting lashed out.
“It is unfair because the President had singled us out. There are corruptions in the government, there are corruptions in BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), would he also do away with the CPAs (Certified Public Accountants)? In PhilHealth, do they do away with practicing medical practitioners?” Adones Carmona, president of the Chamber of Customs Brokers, exclaimed.
He also added that tens of thousands of brokers would be affected along with their families, and even the students who are currently learning the profession.
“They will expect a fight from us licensed Customs brokers. We are 11,900 strong members. Also, what will be affected are the students who enrolled in this program Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration in over 85 universities and schools offering this program. It’s a 4-year course and they need to review for a six-month period for the licensure examination…We will really fight head on because we are fighting for our profession and for our survival,” he said.
“If there are brokers, there is corruption”
Duterte said last week that removing the brokers would end the corruption in the bureau.
“Itong sa Customs, ang gusto ko, wala nang brokers. Pagka may brokers, may corruption talaga ‘yan. Ngayon, sinasabi ko, sabihin mo sa Pilipino, kung gusto talaga nila walang corruption, tanggalin na natin ‘yan,” he said in a speech on Tuesday.
Despite that, Carmona proposed a “moratorium of 2 years” to let fresh graduates gain an experience first before actually having their license.
“We are exploring the possibility of moratorium of 2 years to gain first experience before they would be able to sign as a licensed Customs broker,” he mentioned.
However, Castillo said government should upgrade its system if it wants to avoid corruption.
“My suggestion to the President if they are really serious in curbing corruption in the bureau is to upgrade the technology and professionalize the ranks themselves.”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson also mentioned this, saying modernizing the system of Customs would avoid tax leakages, which could be the reason for the country’s loss of billions of pesos.