The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has increased its efforts in monitoring and ensuring smooth flow of vaccines and other essential import commodities as the country continues to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the recent measures implemented by the BoC is the creation of the Covax Importation Unit responsible for coordinating with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and other concerned agencies on matters relating to COVID-19 vaccines.
The One-Stop-Shop at the Port of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) also ensures the speedy processing and release of approved vaccines, personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and other goods essential in the fight against COVID-19, provided that all regulated goods are compliant with the required permits.
The agency said it is also expecting an increase in the volume of importation of processed and canned meat products and pork products following the issuance of Executive Order 123, which extends the five percent tariff on imports of mechanically-deboned meat (MDM) of chicken and turkey until the end of 2021.
“With these recent developments, the BoC has strengthened its trade facilitation programs and activities to ensure a continued supply of essential food products,” the BoC said.
“Customer Care Centers established in 17 Collection Districts remain operational to assist stakeholders with their concerns and BoC-related transactions. Disposition of overstaying containers remains in effect to ensure unhampered delivery of services and avoid possible port congestion,” it added.
The agency also strengthened its border security measures to ensure that all arriving shipments are compliant with Customs laws, rules, and regulations.
These include the installation of portal X-ray machines capable of scanning 160 containers per hour, or 3,840 containers per day in Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, Port of Cebu, and Port of Davao.
The newly created Customs Operations Center also strengthens the BoC’s command and control on intelligence and enforcement operations of its 17 collection districts nationwide.
Moreover, implementation of the Universal Risk Management System (URMS) enhances the BoC’s risk and compliance-prediction capabilities against illicit trade and Customs fraud.
“The Bureau of Customs assures the public that it will continue to adopt measures necessary to protect, facilitate and minimize disruption to the supply chain, especially for basic and essential goods,” it said.