Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles told the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to immediately fix its online system glitches to ease the burden of importers who were paying additional storage and demurrage fees.
The BOC issued an advisory dated December 4 that its internet provider, PLDT, is on downtime. It also assured the public that it is coordinating with PLDT to resolve 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, House Committee on Ways and Means, said the recent online system failures should prompt the BOC to establish new alternative systems under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, citing that “back up protocols are in order to stop the corrupt practices of some scalawags.”
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The lawmaker added the business sector should not suffer and “should not be punished” with additional storage and demurrage fees because glitches and downtimes are part of any 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.
Nograles noted it is about time for BoC to consider finding alternative providers and stop depending 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.