PROFILE IN MARITIME

Maximo Cruz – a true customs man

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LAWYER Maximino Cruz started young in the maritime industry having worked in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) while pursuing his university studies. Currently the general manager of the Association of International Shipping Lines Inc. (AISL) which he assumed in 2005, Cruz’ career was built on works that drew him close to the waterfront.

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AISL represents the container liner trade consisting mostly of foreign vessels operating in the Philippines.
The association coordinates with government agencies, port operators, domestic carriers, tug operators, and other related trades and businesses on matters pertaining to the existing international practices in maritime transportation and other activities affecting the shipping industry. It participates actively in the formulation of policies that impact on the operation of foreign vessels in the Philippines.

Although he left the public service 20 years ago, many in the maritime industry knew Cruz because of his stint in government because of his initiatives in introducing reforms in customs operations, procedures and practices. He served as district collector at the Port of Batangas and later deputy district collector for operations at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and at the Port of Manila (POM), the two premier ports of the country.

While at the BOC, Cruz co-chaired the BOC-AISL Committee where he spearheaded the streamlining of a significant number of customs procedures affecting shipping operations in the Philippines in line with the best international shipping practices. From 1994 to 1996, Cruz served as vice-chairman of the Registration and Monitoring Committee, Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB), under the Department of Trade and Industry that was responsible for monitoring and regulating the activities of non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs), freight forwarders and consolidators to protect the interests of shippers/exporters. Cruz recalls the invaluable works of the inter-agency committee in assisting the Bureau of Customs in containing smuggling in the country especially those perpetrated by unscrupulous freight forwarders and consolidators. One of the biggest accomplishments was the elimination of fly-by-night operators who, for years, had wreaked havoc in the transport industry.

Cooperating with government

The significant contribution of Cruz in the government’s effort of improving customs procedures was noted at the deliberations of the National Economic and Development Authority-Sub-Committee on Transport, Trade and Related Matters (NEDA-TTRM) and the APEC Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, where he was designated as BOC representative. He helped design a set of customs procedures responsive to the APEC’s call for consistency and uniformity in international customs practices geared towards creating a wider space for trade facilitation, through continuous and unhampered cargo movement from the time of arrival to the country of destination. Cruz had the privilege of being the first Filipino customs official to be invited as member the International Multi-modal Transport Association-United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

As one who is always ready to share his customs operations and management knowledge and experience, Cruz was a lecturer in the Masters Program in Customs Administration at the PMI Colleges and later as a Reviewer for the Licensure Examination for Customs Brokers. He is a preferred resource speaker in various symposia on Customs laws, rules and regulations and customs matters.

Cruz finished his AB Political Science course at the University of the Philippines in 1976 where he was a university/college scholar, indeed a tough feat for a working student. He proceeded to the Ateneo de Manila Law School and in 1981 passed the Philippine Bar examination. In 1982 he took and passed the Licensure Examination for Customs Brokers and placed second among the passers. Eighteen years later, he would himself be a Board Examiner for Customs Brokers.

Cruz’s private practice as lawyer with special expertise in customs operations and administration include engagement by ATI Batangas (formerly Aries Arrastre Services Inc.) as general manager from 1999 up to 2000. Thereafter he focused on providing consultancy services to multinational companies which included among other, Ford Philippines Inc., Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), Agility Solutions Inc. (formerly Geologistics), Nike Phils. Inc., and UTi (Global Logistics) Inc.

Cruz’s current undertakings include that of sitting in the Board of Directors of the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI), where he was recently designated as Chairman, of the GPCCI Maritime Affairs Committee another recognition for this maritime professional. Brenda V. Pimentel

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