“A Legal Matter, No Excuse for Customs Jealousy”

Joy Sarti Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said previous legal issues with the Customs office for a contract over its computing software should not hinder the office from carrying out its missions in an efficient and digital manner.

After his committee’s recent hearing on tariff reduction and smuggling, Salceda recommended the use of an automated alert system that records and notes shipments that are “undervalued compared to the standard price for the same good.”

The lawmaker said the government should review the Bank of China’s computing software to prevent smuggling and underestimate its value.

“What can we do with the existing systems so that we can collect more duties and taxes on imports? Otherwise, our tariffs will lose their ability to protect domestic industries.

The customs officials responded that they were restricted from enhancing their computing software to implement Salceda’s recommendation because of a 2015 injunction issued by the Manila Regional Court (RTC) Section 47. The ruling prevented the BOC from aborting the contract award to Omniprime Marketing Inc. and Intrasoft International Inc. The Philippine National Single Window Project (PNSW2).

The Supreme Court later issued a TRO on the injunction, which put the PNSW2 project into what Salceda calls a “buying quandary.”

“Merely a matter of one-lot purchase should not prevent the customs office from updating its valuation collateral,” Salceda said.

He said he would seek the opinion of the Department of Justice “as to whether the injunction prevents them from starting over with a different project to prevent the customs flouting.”

In particular, Salceda said he wanted to see if the BOC could buy the system from scratch and not have to count on solving the PNSW2 issue.

This question needs to be answered, and I think the BOC has been considering this option. We must resolve this issue in time for the 2024 budget discussions.

“The constitution and jurisprudence endorse the power of the police in the state – that is, their ability to enforce the law to protect the public welfare. Taxes are the lifeblood of the government. We must not prevent this lawlessness from applying the law more effectively.”

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