THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday said the worsening problem of congestion of cargo containers at Cebu International Port (CIP) is caused by the delayed filing of entry by some importers.

BOC Port of Cebu District Collector Rico Rey Francis “Koko” Holganza made this clarification during a dialogue with port stakeholders called by Cebu Port Authority (CPA) General Manager Edmund Tan.

The CPA gathered all the port stakeholders to tackle issues, including how to add more space at the CIP to hasten the withdrawal of cargo.

Holganza explained that the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) provides that from the last discharge of shipment from a certain vessel, the importer has 30 days to file an import entry.

“It’s not BOC that is delaying anything. It’s the duty of the importer to file an entry within 30 days. After the 30th day, if you don’t file an entry, technically, your goods are deemed a property of the government already,” Holganza said.

Lax

Holganza said that they are giving an extension period, as importers would reason out that they are having a hard time renewing their import accreditation.

“If we are strict and we don’t consider the side of the business sector, on the 31st day without entry, it’s government property already,” Holganza said.

Holganza said the best remedy to decongest CIP is for importers to file import entries immediately upon the arrival of their shipments.

“Why wait for 30 days when a shipment can be released in a day or two if its documentation is compliant with the law?” Holganza said.

Wevina Pamatong, customs deputy district collector for administration, said that if importers have incomplete documentation of their shipment, it will delay in the processing and releasing of cargo.

Ma. Teresa Chan, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president, acknowleged that some of their members take advantage of the 30-day reglamentary period by delaying the filing of entry, especially those who have warehouses for their goods.

Overtime

Chan and Dondon Montesclaros of PhilExport requested for personnel who can work beyond 7 p.m. so cargoes that have been paid of duties and taxes can be released at night beyond the rush hour.

Holganza said he will study the request, but he also said that any importer can request for personnel overtime if a shipment is ready for release.

Meanwhile, Tan said the CPA is looking at the option of revisiting the storage policies to avoid any chances of importers circumventing the rules and taking advantage of the port’s yard with low storage fees.

Amor Marcelita, manager of CPA Business Marketing and Development Department, said that among those present during the dialogue were officials of the CPA, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7, Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) 7, Land Bank of the Philippines, Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp., Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and shipping companies.