Airlines and vessel operators would be required to provide the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency a manifest prior to arrival to Guam under a bill proposed by Sen. Mary Torres.
“As our island’s ‘first line of defense,’ the CQA is tasked with protecting our borders and securing our ports of entry. The information collected via manifest is a vital component of achieving that mission.” Torres said. “But current law does not reflect recent technological advancements or today’s security concerns.”
Bill 360-35, Torres said, seeks to protect Guam's borders by updating "20th-century laws" to "reflect 21st century security concerns."
According to a press release from Torres' office, the measure is part of an ongoing series of proposals drafted in consultation with the CQA and U.S. Coast Guard to overhaul the agency’s governing chapter, which was enacted in the 1970s.
Under Guam law, a manifest document, which lists the vessel’s cargo, passengers, and crew, does not have to be submitted to a customs officer until after the vessel has already arrived. Bill 360-35 would change this by requiring an electronic submittal of the manifest as well as a separate notice of arrival from any aircraft, vessel, or contrivance prior to entry.
The measure further establishes clear civil and criminal penalties for those who violate these requirements or fail to comply. The bill, is coauthored Speaker Tina Muña Barnes.
“We need to adapt, improvise, and overcome to address the needs of the 21st century. I’m grateful for the partnership of Director Ike Peredo, and USCG Sector Commander Captain Christopher Chase for their insights and input in helping our government of Guam combat the ongoing war on drugs,” said Speaker Muña Barnes.
Between 2012 and 2017 alone, the CQA reported over $64 million in “ice” infiltrating Guam’s ports of entry.
“This legislation will help bridge gaps in our customs enforcement program which will allow customs to move towards efficiently and effectively facilitating commerce, regulate enforcement mandates and regulations, and interdict the smuggling of contraband, most especially crystal methamphetamine,” Peredo said.