Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Tuesday ordered the removal of all customs personnel assigned at terminal gates, which he said caused the delays in transporting customs-cleared cargo trucks and to stop corruption.
Customs gatekeepers of the Pier and Inspection Division and customs police under Enforcement and Security Services are no longer tasked to check the gate pass at the terminal gates, Lapeña said.
“What they actually do is redundant, because port operators already have a working system to check the entry and exit of containers. If the trucks are given the go-signal to leave the terminals, then we have to release them from the ports at once,” Lapeña said.
Lapeña said gatekeepers checking documents is no longer necessary because the documents have already been checked prior to cargo release.
Before, gatekeepers prevented shipments with no gate pass to leave the customs zone. Besides the cargo, gatekeepers also check the container number and registry number of the carrying vessel.
However, port operators are already equipped with a barcode scanning system, which contains the shipment details of containers already marked for release, which the gatekeepers manually check.
Lapeña said the bureau is coordinating with port operators to fully implement the automated system in the terminals.
“They have been long clamoring that port operations be at par with other countries in terms of automation. They have been asking the bureau to do away with manual and redundant processes,” he said.
The ESS guards, on the other hand, oversee security of the entire port perimeter. The terminals, although managed by private operators, are considered an extension of BoC jurisdiction.
Lapeña said cargoes already allowed or marked for release should no longer be subjected to further scrutiny by ESS guards at the gates prior to their exit.