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23 February 2009

Customs vows 100% X-ray scanning of cargo in Subic

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has vowed to fully implement the mandatory X-ray scanning of containerized cargo passing through the Subic Bay Freeport after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) offered assistance in the bureau’s revenue collection efforts.

Port of Subic customs collector Marietta Zamoranos assured the Congressional Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Jeci Lapus of Tarlac that her office would ensure the proper use of the X-ray machine at Subic’s New Container Terminals (NCT-1 and 2) in order to plug any revenue leak and prevent the entry of anti-social goods.

“I believe that, at least with respect to the collection of fees, it can be done properly with the help of the SBMA,” Zamoranos said, after SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza proposed that boom gates be installed at the entry/exit to the container ports to facilitate X-ray inspection of containerized goods.

Lapus and oversight committee members Rep. Teodoro Casiño (Bayan partylist) and Rep. Ma. Carissa Coscolluela (Buhay partylist) conducted a hearing here last week to investigate reports that the X-ray machine installed here by the Department of Finance in late 2007 has not been utilized.

Kurais Jusman, BoC field officer for the X-ray inspection project in Subic, however, reported that only 20 percent of all containerized cargo passing through Subic from October 2008 to January 2009 were scanned.

Jusman told the committee that container truck drivers on their way out of the cargo terminal refused to stop for X-ray scanning even if they were flagged down by Customs agents.

He said that because of this, out of the total 2,125 containerized cargoes that entered the Port of Subic since October, only 433 passed through X-ray scanning.

Jusman also said that only 1,267 cargoes have been assessed for the container security fee (CSF), which is charged to help defray the $150-million cost of 10 X-ray machines installed in various ports throughout the country.

He added that in the same period, 834 cargoes were assessed for the CSF but were not scanned, while 361 did not pay the CSF and also bypassed the scanning requirement.

Arreza said that boom gates should be set up at the cargo terminal’s point of entry/exit to solve the problem.

“If this was relayed immediately to us, we could have gone after the business locators here who refused to have their cargo scanned,” Arreza said, adding that the SBMA will now take a more active role in seeing to it that Freeport locators comply with Customs scanning procedures as far as their incoming containerized cargoes are concerned.

With this, Lapus asked Jusman if the scanning requirement can be carried out once the boom gates are set up.

To which Jusman replied: “I will resign from my position if we fail to scan 100 percent of the containers.”

The X-ray scanning of all containerized cargoes in Subic is aimed at enforcing Executive Order No. 660, which imposed taxes on excess capital goods imported at the Subic Bay Freeport and Special Economic Zone to prevent technical smuggling.

Under EO 660, importations by Subic locators of capital goods in excess of what they need would be deemed brought into or sold within the customs territory and subject to taxes.

Early last month, SBMA senior deputy administrator for operations Ferdinand Hernandez issued a memorandum to all investor-firms in Subic to remind them about the required X-ray scanning of all containerized cargoes arriving in Subic. (SBMA Corporate Communications)


PHOTO: Members of the Congressional oversight committee (from left) Buhay partylist Rep. Ma. Carissa Coscolluela, Bayan partylist Rep. Teodoro Casiño, and committee chairman Rep. Jeci Lapus (Tarlac) conduct a probe on the use of X-ray scanning machine at the Port of Subic.

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