The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) is eyeing the reactivation of the green lane selectivity system within the second quarter of the year, according to Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
“We have completed improvements in the system and we are still conducting assurance testing to avoid a repeat of the problems we experienced in the past,” Guerrero told Asia Customs & Trade in a text message.
Guerrero was referring to the May 2017 incident when a shipment of methamphetamine hydrochloride worth P6.5 billion was directed to the green lane, eluding BOC detection.
Under BOC’s selectivity system, shipments classified as low risk are directed to the green lane, where shipments do not require documentary review or inspection. Medium-risk shipments are tagged for the yellow lane and require documentary review, while high-risk cargoes are directed to the red lane for documentary review and inspection.
After congressional hearings on how the P6.5-billion shipment evaded Customs, BOC on August 31, 2017 suspended the use of green lane in order to review the selectivity system. The suspension lasted for more than a year until Guerrero, in a memorandum dated December 20, 2018, ordered it lifted.
Last March 2019, Guerrero said a Risk Management Committee (RMC) was created to fine-tune the parameters of the selectivity system in preparation for reactivating the green lane.
Asked if BOC has improved its risk management system to ensure higher rates of detection of smuggled goods and contraband while the agency facilitates trade by reactivating the green lane, Guerrero said the RMC “now continuously monitors, reviews, and updates our Risk Management System (RMS).”
“Right now, as part of the WB [World Bank] assistance, an expert is helping our RMO [Risk Management Office] in our project to upgrade our RMS,” he added. The RMO is the office at BOC in charge of risk management and the selectivity system.
Guerrero noted that additional new x-ray machines with faster scanning capabilities have also just arrived, and these are currently being installed and expected to become operational by next month.
The new x-ray machines are part of the 50 units acquired by BOC for P1.2 billion. Of the total, six are portal-type x-ray machines, 15 fixed-baggage x-ray machines, 25 hand-carried baggage x-ray machines, and four mobile baggage x-ray machines.
The Customs chief said BOC will announce the reactivation in due time, but confirmed it will be within the second quarter. – Roumina Pablo