Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles asked the Bureau of Customs (BoC) Sunday to expeditiously act on its online system failure so that importers would not be burdened with additional storage and demurrage fees.
He made the call after the BoC issued an advisory dated Dec. 4 informing its stakeholders that its Internet provider, PLDT, is on downtime. In the same advisory, it assured the public that it is working with the PLDT to fix the problem as soon as possible.
“While the online system has sped up the processes in Customs, we have received numerous complaints that when the system bogs down, the unscrupulous fixers begin their trade,” Nograles said in a statement.
“Those who complained that when the online system fails, some officials dangle the additional storage and demurrage fees as a reason to force importers to pay grease money to prioritize release of shipments,” he lamented.
Nograles, a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the recent online system glitches should prod the BoC to create new alternative systems within the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, citing that “back up protocols are in order to stop the corrupt practices of some scalawags.”
He said the business sector should not suffer and “should not be punished” with additional storage and demurrage fees because of such online system glitches, considering that glitches and downtime are expected in an online system.
“And such conditions should have a corruption-free protocol that would not cost importers additional storage fees and demurrage. Whose fault is the downtime, anyway? The Bureau? The Internet service provider? Definitely not the importers. Time-sensitive transactions allow another possible scenario of corruption in Customs,” he said.
He said it is about time for BoC to consider alternative providers and not to be dependent on a single Internet Service Provider (ISP).
“Naturally, importers would have to pass on the extra charges to their customers, who will pass it on to the consumers. In the end, it is the Filipino people who would suffer most just because of bad Internet services. I ask the BoC for a little more malasakit in solving a problem as simple as an offline ISP,” Nograles said.