PH Customs order tackles requests for public info

PH Customs order tackles requests for public info

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The Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) have laid down the draft rules that will govern requests for non-confidential and unpublished information made with the customs agency.

The proposed customs administrative order (CAO) will implement several sections of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), and in accordance with Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10173 (Data Privacy Act of 2012), R.A. No. 10667 (Philippine Competition Act), and Executive Order No. 02 series of 2016, or the Freedom of Information Order.

The draft CAO will cover any request for non-confidential, unpublished information as well as the procedure for processing such a request.

Position papers will be accepted until May 11, the same day as the public hearing on the draft CAO.

BOC, under the draft order, will ensure that all non-confidential, unpublished information for legitimate use is made available to the public immediately.

Requests for such information will be processed through a simplified system to be established and administered by the Ruling and Research Division of the Legal Service of the Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group, in coordination with the Central Records Management Division (CRMD) of the Administration Office of the Internal Administration Group.

Except in judicial proceedings, disclosing confidential information should not be made without the written consent of the party concerned, the draft noted.

The CRMD, utilizing an ICT-enabled system, will create and maintain accurate and reasonably complete customs records and information in appropriate formats, and establish a records management system that facilitates identification, retrieval, and communication of information to the public.

Access to information is allowed unless the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing laws, or jurisprudence. These exceptions include information covered by executive privilege; information concerning law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety; personal information deemed confidential to protect the privacy of persons and certain individuals; information, documents, or records known by reason of official capacity and are deemed as confidential; prejudicial premature disclosure; records of proceedings or information from proceedings that is treated as confidential or privileged; matters considered confidential under banking and finance laws and their amendatory laws; and trade secrets, intellectual property, confidential business information, commercial, financial and other proprietary information.

A customs memorandum order will be issued prescribing the detailed procedures in the processing of requests for non-confidential and unpublished information. – Roumina Pablo

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