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Biazon proposes end to sham consignees

A former commissioner of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and now a lawmaker is proposing an accreditation system meant to stop the unscrupulous use of fake consignees.

These nonexistent consignees have been blamed for the explosion of smuggling activities making possible the entry of high value but illegal substances, like methamphetamine or shabu worth billions of pesos.

In House Bill 6390, Rep. Rufino B. Biazon of the Lone District of Muntinlupa City proposes a system of classification for third parties and assess their capability to import, export, move, store or clear goods.

The bill has already been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday.

Section 102(uu) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, or CMTA, defines a “third party” as any person who deals directly with the BOC for and on behalf of another person, relating to the importation, exportation, movement or storage of goods.

Section 1226 of the same law also provides that third parties may also refer to logistics providers, importers, exporters, carriers, airlines, shipping lines, shipping agents, forwarders, consolidators, port and terminal operators and warehouse operators, if such persons or entities transacted with the bureau.

Biazon said he filed the bill after the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Public Order and Safety exposed the alleged smuggling of high-grade shabu through the express lane of the BOC using “consignees for hire” by unscrupulous persons and entities to smuggle goods into the country.

“These ‘consignees for hire’, more often than not, are small companies that are used as dummy companies by unscrupulous persons and entities to hide their true identities and thus escape prosecution,” he said.

Under this setup, Biazon said the fake consignees are usually small companies that may not even have the capability to engage in the import, export, movement, storage or clearance of goods based on their capital.

“There is, therefore, a need to address this problem in order to abate the smuggling of goods and ensure that proper duties and taxes of goods are collected,” he added.

Under the bill, third parties transacting with the BOC are liable for acts committed in violation of the act and related laws.

It said upon the recommendation of the commissioner, the secretary of finance shall issue rules and regulations to govern and regulate the conduct of all third parties dealing directly with the bureau in relation to the importation, exportation, movement, storage and clearance of goods for and on behalf of another person.

The measure also provides specific conditions under which third parties may directly transact with the bureau via a written notice in case such third parties are, for valid reasons, barred from transacting with the BOC.

It shall also provide a classification for third parties according to their capitalization and volume of transaction used in assessing their capacity to import, export, move, store or clear good.

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