By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, February 14 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Rappler

THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) now requires trucking services to register with it, despite concerns from an industry group that its members are already heavily regulated.

Customs Memorandum Order 05-2019 requires truckers offering services to Customs ports to register under the bureau’s Client Profile Registration System.

This will be mandatory before they can continue ferrying goods from ports to Customs warehouses, freeport zones, consignee premises or exit ports.

“This order shall apply to all truckers dealing directly with the Bureau, for and on behalf of the importer or exporter relating to the transportation of goods,” read the issuance signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero on Feb. 4.

“All truckers are required to be registered with the bureau before they may be authorized to transport imported goods,” it added, noting that applications must be filed with the bureau’s Account Management Office in Manila or before the respective district collectors in the provinces.

Applications will be made under oath and should include required documents, such as a copy of the trucking firm’s certificate of public convenience, list of clients, a certificate or affidavit for signatories for company representatives, two valid IDs, an original copy of a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation, the firm’s latest general information sheet, and a list of drivers and helpers.

Other requirements include personal profile of applicants and company officials; certificates of registration and plate numbers of trucks, trailer chassis and tractor heads; proof of existence of garage; registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue; certificate of good standing as a member of an industry group; valid mayor’s permit; and an endorsement from the collector.

Some of these documents must be updated annually.

Truckers will also have to pay a P5,000 registration fee, with the application to be evaluated within five working days upon submission.

If approved, registration is valid for three years.

The bureau said the changes were in accordance of Republic Act No. 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act passed in 2016.

Sought for comment, an official of the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines (CTAP) said its main concern about the new rules is that they add another layer of regulation.

“What we have been requesting is to make the requirements easily compliable. Pwede naman, pero huwag lang pahirapan (We can register, but they shouldn’t make it too cumbersome to do so),” Maria B. Zapata, CTAP vice-president for External Affairs, said in a telephone interview.

Currently, truck-for-hire companies already report to the Land Transportation Office, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Philippine Ports Authority.

Ms. Zapata added members of her group hope that the papers they submitted to these agencies will be acceptable to the BoC.

Signing up will mean that the truckers will be covered by rules and regulations prescribed by the BoC for handling shipments, and will also allow blacklisting of problematic service providers.

The same order states that a trucker’s registration also meant a pledge of cooperation in any Customs investigation by submitting pertinent papers, “statements, affidavits and attestations” related to the probe.

The bureau can also suspend, cancel or revoke the registration of truckers.

Grounds for revocation include facilitating transport of smuggled goods, failure to report information on fraud, as well as submission of misrepresented or false information for their registration.

In a separate issuance, the BoC also required all imported goods and services to be marked with their country of origin.

Customs said this is to prevent the “deceptive practice” of passing off imported items as coming from a different country other than its actual point of origin.