Home » Maritime » GPS seal on Philippine transit cargoes questioned

THE Port Users Confederation (PUC), an umbrella organization of transport associations in the Philippines, recently registered reservations over a Bureau of Customs (BOC) plan to equip transit containers with global positing satellite (GPS) seals.

The electronic GPS-equipped barrier seal will allow BOC to track cargo in transit from the port of discharge to its final destination.

Pilot testing is scheduled to commence next month possibly at the freeport zones of Subic and Clark in northern Philippines; full nationwide implementation is eyed in September.

A document showing results of the June 2 and June 7 meeting between PUC and BOC officials noted that PUC welcomed the initiative but found details of the project vague. The association was also informed of the project only when the BOC invited its representatives to give their opinion on the plan’s feasibility and details of the pilot project.

Customs Deputy Commissioner Gregorio V. Chavez presided over both meetings.

PUC is particularly wary of the fixed fee of P2,250 for seal-provided trucks regardless of distance and frequency of use. The fee is not inclusive of other attendant fees that were still up for discussion and that would be paid to the seal service provider which has yet to be officially named.

But since Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) representatives George Bottomley and Stephen Murphy were present at the meetings, PUC representatives asked if SGS was the project’s only accredited service provider. The response from BOC was that nothing was final and that was why consultation with stakeholders was being undertaken.

Three service providers were invited to submit their proposals for the project — Swiss companies SGS and Cotecna, and Philippine firm Tim Corporation. The three bidders will be short listed and the final bidder allowed to initiate a pilot project by August.

PUC also pointed out there is no concrete evidence of progress on the pilot project nor has there been an actual sample of a seal with GPS facility produced that would enable the Philippine National Police to monitor containers in transit and to respond to untoward incidents.

PUC also found it strange that to monitor the project, the BOC created the Committee on the Accreditation of Service Providers made up of 28 members, noting that the “sheer number alone negates speed and efficiency of work in the committee plus the fact that with an even number, the question of someone to break a possible tie came up.

“Sources also said that some of the committee members may be compromised with their present or past affiliation with the bidder that was chosen to undertake the pilot project.”

PUC counts as members the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, AirCargo Forwarders of the Philippines, Inc, Semiconductors and Electronic Industries of the Philippines Inc, and Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc, among others.

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