The declaration of a State of Calamity by President Rodrigo Duterte through Presidential Proclamation 929 on March 16, 2020 and the imposition of an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon as a consequence of the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (“COVI D-19”), resulted to a lot of streamlining efforts by various government agencies in procedures involving critical government services. These efforts were initiated as the need to reduce and/or avoid person-to-person contact in processing necessary permits and authorizations have become increasingly necessary , including those intended for the importation of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) and specific medical devices essential for the management of (“COVID-19 Critical Commodities”).
Despite the streamlining efforts of concerned government agencies, bottlenecks and challenges in the importation process remain. This is particularly true with respect to commercial importations of COVID-19 Critical Commodities. Among these are the following:
- confusion and misinformation of the public on procedures for commercial importations of COVID-19 Critical Commodities by private entities; and
- continued operation of government agencies under a “silo system” where applicants need to transact with individual government agencies separately, even if they are part of the entire importation process.’
Needless to say, even if each agency involved in the importation process streamline its procedures and reduce documentary requirements, applicants still deal with the government on a “piece-meal” basis. This means that any delay or challenge in one government agency produces a domino effect across the other import processing agencies, which becomes unduly burdensome to the importer.
There is, thus, an increasing public clamor and need for more efficient inter-connected processes, particularly in the commercial importation of COVID–19 Critical Commodities. For emphasis, this does not cover the clearance of relief consignments entered during a state of calamity which is already covered by Joint Administrative Order No. 1-2020.2
The creation of Bayanihan One Stop Shop (BOSS) is hereby adopted through the joint efforts of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) pursuant to the relevant provisions of Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” (the “Bayanihan Act”). Section 4 of the Bayanihan Act grants the President the power to adopt certain temporary emergency measures to respond to the crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, including among others, the following:
- To continue to enforce measures to protect the people from xxx other pernicious practices affecting the supply, distribution and movement of xxx sanitation products, medicine and medical supplies, and other articles of prime necessity, whether imported or locally produced or manufactured (Section 4 (i));
- To ensure that donation, acceptance and distribution of health products intended to address the COVID-19 public health emergency are not unnecessarily delayed and that health products for donation duly certified by the regulatory agency or their accredited third party from countries with established regulation shall automatically be cleared: Provided, That this shall not apply to health products which do not require a certification or clearance from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Section 4(j)); and
- To liberalize the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical or needed equipment or supplies for the carrying-out of the policy declared herein, including healthcare equipment and supplies: Provided, That importation of these equipment and supplies shall be exempt from import duties, taxes and other fees (Section 4 (0)). [Emphasis supplied]
to continue reading, click the attachment below…