Sevilla: Initial Results of Customs Reform Encouraging

Tuesday, 04 June 2013.

Four months after rolling out President Aquino’s reform program for the Bureau of Customs, emerging cash collections by the agency for the months of November 2013 to January 2014 registered a 19.26% growth rate over the comparable period in 2012 to 2013. This is a significant improvement from the pre-reform period growth of 4.76% in January 2013 to October 2013.


Table 1. BOC Cash Collections* (in P million)


BOC Cash Collections (P million)

Current period

Previous period


January-October (Pre-Reform)




November-January (Reform)**




*figures exclude non-cash and tax expenditure collections, for a fairer comparison period-on-period
**emerging figures


“One of the key performance indicators for the reform’s success is the improvement in its cash collections. One can draw a line before and after October, when the reform operations and personnel movements stabilized, and observe that the initial major elements of the President’s Customs Reform Program have been substantive and generated significant growth in revenues for the government. These are encouraging initial results. The numbers tell us the reform program is starting to work,” Sevilla said.


The initial major elements of the President’s Customs Reform Program include the appointment of new top level customs officials, the order for customs officials to return to their mother units in late September, the creation of the Office of Revenue Agency Modernization, the strategy execution and change management arm of the DOF, via Executive Order No. 139, s. 2013, and the creation of the Customs Policy Research Office, the policy modernization and formulation arm for customs, via EO No. 140, s. 2013.


90% success rate in finding alerted imports that are undervalued or misclassified

The BOC’s Intelligence Group (IG) and Enforcement Group (EG) have been actively fighting smuggling by issuing an unprecedented number of examinations on alerted shipments that were potentially undervalued or misclassified over the past four months. Of the 142 shipments that were examined, 90% had adverse or derogatory findings, leading to higher collections for government.

“This tells us two things: first, that importers have been so used to the system of corruption in the Bureau and colluding with customs officials that they think they can get away with the gross undervaluation of their imports; second, despite complaints from some sectors about congestion, with our 90% success rate in finding problems in import entries, the Bureau is actually not alerting and examining enough shipments.” the Customs Chief noted.


Customs Reform Team committed to building fundamentals

Despite the initial positive signs of the President’s Customs Reform Program, Sevilla reiterated that the work of Customs reform is to go back to the basics and to fix the fundamentals.

“The long-term success of Customs reform will not be found in big overarching ideas, but in the work of the mundane and every day. The Customs Reform Team is committed to building the fundamentals by working on the mundane. The devil is in the details: we are committed to closing up all these gaps in the system to make it harder for our people to do the bad thing, and easier for them to do the good thing. This is to ensure that tuwid na daan becomes the road to take for importers and customs officials alike. The public should expect to see more of these customs reform initiatives rolled out in the next few months,” Sevilla added.


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