BROKERS transacting with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) need not register with the agency, according to the Supreme Court (SC).
The High Court, in a decision penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion and dated July 28, 2014, said Republic Act 9280 provides that one who passes the Customs brokers examinations automatically acquires a Certificate of Registration, which entitles him to practice as a Customs broker with all the benefits and privileges that his profession allows him to enjoy (Section19, RA 9280).
Its Second Division actually reversed a Court of Appeals (CA) decision dated February 28, 2008 and a resolution dated May 27, 2008.
The CA earlier overturned and set aside a decision dated September 6, 2006 of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 8 in Civil Case No. 06-115025, which upheld the validity of Customs Administrative Order 3-2006 (CAO 3-2006).
Customs brokers’ leader Rey Soliman thanked Airlift Asia Customs Brokerage Inc. and Allan Benedicto for taking the initiative and bringing the case against the BOC and the Department of Finance over the supposed requirement for them to register with the bureau.
The decision, concurred in by Second Division Chairman Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Jose Perez and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, said a large part of a Customs broker’s work involves practice before the BOC, and CAO 3-2006 practically compels all Customs brokers—already certified by the Professional Regulatory Commission—to comply with the accreditation requirement for them to practice their profession.
“This is contrary to the terms of Section 19 of RA 9280, which provides that a Customs broker “shall be allowed to practice the profession in any collection district without the need of securing another license from the BOC,” the SC ruling said.
It, however, added, that the justices were not convinced that the BOC commissioner’s claim that CAO 3-2006’s accreditation requirement is not a form of license.
“Since it is only by complying with CAO 3-2006 that a Customs broker can practice his profession before the BOC, the accreditation takes the form of a licensing requirement prescribed by the law. It amounts to an additional burden on PRC-certified Customs brokers and curtails their right to practice their profession.”