Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has sacked the district collectors of the bureau’s so-called “flagship ports,” the Port of Manila (PoM) and the Manila International Container Port (MICP), for defying his order on the proper valuation of shipments.
A Customs official who asked not to be identified said Lapeña announced the sacking of the two collectors during an executive meeting.
Relieved from their posts were PoM Collector Rhea Gregorio and MICP Collector Phillip Vincent Maronilla. They were replaced by Deputy Colector Ernie Aquino and Deputy Collector Rubie Alameda, respectively.
“They were not following my orders to implement proper valuation. My instruction is proper valuation, not benchmarking,” the source quoted the customs chief as saying.
Benchmarking or threshold system is an illegal form of assessing duties and taxes on arriving shipments.
It was learned that the PoM and the MICP implemented the benchmarking system since last week after Lapeña instructed all district collectors to implement proper valuation of shipment and get rid of the “tara” or grease money system to increase revenues and meet the bureau’s 2017 collection target of P468 billion.
PoM and MICP pegged a fixed assessment of P120,000 for a 20-footer container van and P150,000 to P170,000 for 40-footer containers.
Any assessment below the threshold level will automatically be subjected to scrutiny to determine if the assessed duties and taxes correspond to the importer’s declared value of its shipment.
The benchmarking system, though illegal, is an effective way to increase revenue collections.
Lapeña warned that district collectors who consistently failed to meet their assigned targets and do not implement proper valuation will be replaced.
“We are in the process of evaluating the performance of district collectors because we have a target to hit. We are fast-tracking the evaluation, depending on their performances. If they do not meet their targets we will be more strict on the scrutiny of their performance. Those who consistently don’t meet their assigned targets will be the first to go,” he said.
The bureau needs to collect P50.1 billion from September to December to meet the target of P468 billion.