‘Relief goods are duty-free’

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday reiterated that donated relief goods are exempted from import duties and the processing of customs clearance and documents covering it will be expedited through the agency’s one-stop-shop.

In a press statement emailed to Sun.Star Cebu by information officer Charo Logarta Lagamon, the BOC said the one-stop-shop was created by virtue of Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 8-2013 issued last Nov. 11, 2013 or three days after super syphoon Yolanda hit the Visayas.

Lagamon said that under CMO 8-2013, port collectors are directed to process goods, articles and equipment meant for Yolanda-relief operations and aid immediately upon arrival. The CMO also provides the guidelines and requirements for the customs clearance for the relief goods.

“All charges, fees, duties and taxes are waived and exempted for foreign aid and

donations meant for Yolanda relief efforts. The CMO also provides the guidelines and requirements for the customs clearance of the donated relief goods from abroad,” Lagamon said.

However, the customs official said that while donated relief goods are exempt from

paying duties and taxes, there are laws and processes to follow, and failure to abide by it will mean cancellation of exemptions.

Thus, Lagamon said, it is very important for shippers of relief goods from abroad and their consignees or recipients in the Philippines to consign the shipment to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or to any other charitable organizations that are accredited by DSWD.

Lagamon said the duty exemption do not, however, include stevedoring, storage and demurrage costs from Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp. (Opascor), Cebu Port Authority (CPA) and various shipping lines.

Lagamon said the BOC is coordinating with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), DSWD, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA) and other agencies to align and further streamline the guidelines, rules and procedures for the processing and release of foreign donated relief goods.

When sought to comment, DSWD 7 Director Mercedita Jabagat said they have no problem facilitating the release of foreign-donated relief goods consigned to her agency because of the One-Stop-Shop.

She said the One-Stop-Shop is manned by representatives from concerned government agencies.

Jabagat said the only problem is if a non-government organization will turn over to DSWD the relief goods originally consigned to them, but already incurred demurrage fees. EOB

4.

Proper bidding was done: Guv

CEBU Gov. Hilario Davide III said that Black Pearl Security Agency (BPSA) won the bidding based on its available equipment and tools, contrary to reports that its personnel lack firearms.

Davide, in a prepared statement, said the Cebu Provincial Government strictly followed the procedures in bidding as provided in Republic Act 9184 or the Procurement Law.

Davide said that after several processes, the BPSA came up with the best offer and won.

BPSA’s personnel began working at the Capitol last June 1.

The Capitol’s security services contract with Tactical Security Agency Inc. (TSAI) expired last May 31.

Assessment

BPSA still needs to undergo a post-qualification assessment before a contract will be signed.

There were five were security agencies that joined the bidding, namely Davao Cavaliers Security Agency (DCSA), Care Best Security Agency (CBSA), GDS Security and Detective

Agency, BPSA and TSAI.

DCSA and CBSA were disqualified after defects in their eligibility documents were noticed.

Only the three agencies left were included in the evaluation of financial proposal by the bids and awards committee (BAC).

Since GDS, BPSA and TSAI had identical bid offers, Provincial Legal Officer Orvi Ortega, who heads the BAC, conducted an executive session and agreed on a process to break the deadlock, according to Davide.

Equipment

Based on a record from BAC, the availability of BPSA’s equipment and tools, such as handcuffs, utility vehicles, hand-held radio, metal detector and halogen flashlight was confirmed. The agency exceeded the minimum number of tools required.

In the same record, it also showed that BPSA has enough items, like shotguns, pistols and motorcycle.

Ortega said he still has to meet with Cebu South Bus Terminal Administrator Vicente Dejoras Jr. who noticed that BPSA’s personnel had no firearms on the first day.

He pointed out that later that day, the personnel were already equipped.

Davide said it was the BPSA that offered to render its service, although there was no contract yet.

“The bidding process was conducted above board. This administration is serious and sincere in promoting good governance in the Provincial Government. Transparency and accountability must be observed at all times in all its dealings,” Davide said.

Last Monday, TSAI sent a letter to Davide requesting to review and examine the bidding procedures for security services conducted by BAC.

“In our view, it would have been transparent if all bidders were informed that offering additional equipment would be the bases to break the tie in case the financial bids will result in the same amounts,” said Tellie Aguilar from TSAI in her letter to Davide.

Davide said he has not yet read the letter.

The governor said that to end insinuations that BAC is favoring someone, he is open to the idea that BAC members appear before the Provincial Board in aid of legislation.