The Bureau of Customs (BOC) also known as the Bureau of Immigration is an agency of the Department of Finance. It is charged with delegating and collecting customs profit, curbing illicit trade and all forms of customs fraud, and conducting trade through an efficient customs management system. In this video, I talk about customs in the Philippines. Lots of people smuggle stuff into the Philippines, but some of them get caught.
History of Customs in the Philippines
Historical records show that the customs service in the Philippines began centuries back long before it was discovered during the western expeditionary. The Philippines already had a flourishing trade agreement with countries of Southeast Asia, but since money at that time wasn’t the medium of exchange, people resorted to the barter system of commodities.
The leaders of the barangays were known as the datu or rajahs and collected bribes from the people before they were allowed to engage in trade. The practice of collecting bribes became part of their culture and was then observed and followed as the Customs norm of the Land before it had become another form of corruption known today.
The Spanish Regime
After Spain had taken full control of almost all the trades of the Philippines, it passed three important rules:
Spanish Customs Law was similar to the Indies which was enforced in the country from 1582 to 1828. It was a concept of Valorem levied on import and export trades across the country.
A Tariff Board was established which agreed upon a tariff of set values for all imported articles on which ten percent ad valorem duty, or in other words “tax” were uniformly collected from both parties.
Another Tariff Law was introduced in 1891, which established the specific duties on all imports and certain exports, this lasted till the end of the Spanish rule in the Philippines.
The American Regime
When the Americans finally came to the Philippines, the Military Government continued to enforce the Spanish Tariff Code of 1891, which remained in effect until the Philippine Commission enacted the Tariff Revision Law of 1901.
On October 24, 1900, the Philippine Commission passed Act number 33 abolishing and changing the position of Captain of the Port to Collector of Customs in all ports of entry except the Port of Manila. This was when the designation of the Captain of the Port in the Port of Manila was retained.
When the Civil Government was established in the Philippines, the most prominent laws passed by the Philippine Commission were the following:
Tariff Revision Law of 1902 was based on the theory that the laws of Spain were not as comprehensive as the American Customs Laws to conform with the existing conditions of the country.
Philippine Administrative Act Number 355 was passed by the Philippine Commission on February 6, 1902. The full implications of this Act were considered inadequate and incomplete, so the Customs Service Act number 355, going by the name of Philippine Customs Service Act was passed to amend the past laws. After several modifications and amendments, the Philippine Customs Service finally became a practical subsidiary of the American Customs Service.
Act number 357 reorganized the Philippine Customs Service and officially designated the Insular Collector of Customs as Collector of Customs for the Port of Manila.
Act number 625 removed the Captain of the Port for the Port of Manila.
Public Act number 430 transformed the Philippine Customs agency to a Bureau of Customs and Immigration under the supervision and control of the Department of Finance and Justice.
When the Department of Justice became a separate office from the Department of Finance, the customs service remained under the control of the latter which remains the same at this time.
Import corruption in the Philippines
Corruption in the Philippines is not an uncommon thing. If you stay here in the Philippines long enough you will experience this first hand and for more on dealing with corruption in the Philippines, read some of my other blogs on this topic. For a prime example of this type of behavior keep reading.
In May 2017, ₱6.4 billion worth of methamphetamine, locally known as shabu was seized in two warehouses in Valenzuela, Metro Manila. The Bureau of Customs was criticized for its alleged role in the smuggling of illegal drugs into the country.
On May 28, 2017, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized ₱6.4 billion worth of methamphetamine in two warehouses found in Barangay Ugong in Valenzuela a small province found in Metro Manila. The BOC said that they acted on an intelligence report forwarded to them by the head of Administration from Customs in China. The seizure was made in accordance with a Letter of Authority issued by BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. The BOC officials reportedly claimed to be accompanied by personnel from the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency who inspected the warehouses and found the contraband in five metal cylinders.
During the Senate and House hearings alleged details on how the shipment of illegal drugs was brought into the Philippines. On May 16, 2017, the ship Guang Ping Voyage number 1719S, which held the container with the seized methamphetamine arrived at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in Tondo, Manila. The cargo of the ship was logged on the next day by Customs broker, Teejay Marcellana, who reported that the shipment contained kitchenware and home appliances.
The following day, the importer of the goods, EMT Trading which is owned by Eirene Tatad paid the customs and duties for the shipment. The firm says that they were unaware of the illegal contraband found inside the shipment. The shipment had then passed through the green lane where shipments were not scanned through X-ray. According to the protocol, shipments accepted by first-time importers or from China were not allowed to pass directly through the green lane. A truck registered under Golden Strike Logistics transported the container with methamphetamine out from the MICP on May 23.
For more information on the Philippines import and export procedures, Bureau of immigration, government corruption, and general information about these topics check out the youtube video above. If you would like to learn more, come see us at BADLADZ Adventure resorts, and we would love to talk with you and offer helpful advice during your stay in the Philippines.