Ports authority urged to stop container monitoring policy

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Containers are seen at the Manila port area. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

VARIOUS business groups, which include shipping companies, truckers, exporters, and customs brokers, want the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to stop its container monitoring policy, saying this duplicates the functions of the Customs bureau and disrupts port operations.

The heads of 14 business groups issued a statement calling for the “immediate revocation” of PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 04-2021, which sets policies on the registration and monitoring of containers using a technology solution.

The statement, which was published in a newspaper on Monday, was signed by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George T. Barcelon, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines President Pierre Carlo Curay and Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) President Mark Matthew F. Parco, among others.

The groups said the PPA “acted outside of its jurisdiction in monitoring the movement of containers that pass through international ports handling containerized cargo that do not fall under [its]authority,” such as those administered by the Cebu Ports Authority, Cagayan Economic Zone, and Poro Point Management Corp., among others.

The AO, outlining the agency’s policy on the registration and monitoring of containers, was signed by PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago in September 2021.

AO required the registration and monitoring of containers arriving and leaving PPA ports. Scheduling, loading, unloading, release, and movement of containers will be monitored. It was aimed at developing a container identification, accountability, and protection program to demonstrate commitment to international standards.

However, the groups seeking the revocation of AO said the PPA’s monitoring tasks under the AO are functions of the Bureau of Customs (BoC).

The BoC, the groups noted, has its own monitoring policy under Customs Administrative Order No. 08-2019, which took effect in August 2019.

The involvement of PPA in container monitoring using a technology is “an unnecessary redundancy outside of [its]own scope of responsibilities,” the groups added.

They noted that the agency’s AO will “create inefficiencies and lead to dramatically higher costs for consumers and businesses especially the micro, small, and medium enterprises.”

The AO is also seen to derail the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, they said.

“Deeper analysis shows that this administrative order will not improve port efficiency and attract more commerce through the country’s two international seaports but has the potential to derail any improvements made in recent years and discourage the flow of more cargo,” the groups said.

The PPA has yet to respond to a request for comment as of press time.

According to documents posted on the PPA website, the agency awarded the P877.600-million Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) & Empty Container Storage Shared Service Facility Design Specifications and Implementation project to the Cebu City-based Nextix, Inc./Shiptek Solutions Corp. joint venture (JV). The notice of award was signed by Mr. Santiago on April 27.

Mr. Santiago and the JV entered into a contract agreement on May 2.

PLSA’s Mr. Parco told BusinessWorld in a phone message on May 19 that “the intervention [of]PPA in the Unified Ticketing Scheme and the implementation of TOP-CRMS will only increase cost to customers and complexity in business.” — Arjay L. Balinbin