Home » Ports/Terminals » Manila North Harbor manifest requirement disrupting domestic lines’ operations

DOMESTIC shipping lines in the Philippines are starting to feel the onus of a Bureau of Customs (BOC) ruling requiring submission of copies of passenger and cargo manifests for all incoming vessels at the Port of Manila.

In a recent letter to North Harbor-Manila International Container Port collector Atty Nelson Belen, Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) executive officer Rona Gatdula sought clarification on the ruling.

“Some of our members reported that the transit manifests covering cargoes of foreign lines were not signed and cleared by your office allegedly until copies of the domestic shipping lines’ passenger and cargo manifests were furnished to your office which is in clear violation of Executive Order No 493 signed by then President Corazon C. Aquino,” Gatdula wrote Belen.

It was Atty Belen who sent a letter to domestic shipping lines on May 30, 2011 asking them to furnish “and/or allow the duly authorized representative of the Port Collector, North Harbor, to secure, obtain and/or receive regularly the Domestic Manifests of any or all vessels loading or unloading cargo at the North Harbor.”

The order is supposedly designed to help stamp out smuggling.

But a high-ranking PLSA official who requested anonymity complained that because of the order, domestic cargoes coming out of the North Harbor are now treated as foreign cargo needing clearance from the BOC.

He claimed some PLSA members are supposedly shelling out P40,000 per container just to expedite cargo clearance.

“We are trying to seek the help of higher officials of the BOC to address this problem as it is starting to affect our commercial operations,” the official told PortCalls. “This has never happened before that is why we are seeking an audience with BOC deputy commissioner and Run After The Smugglers chief Gregorio Chavez to discuss this issue.”

In an even earlier letter to Atty Belen, PLSA’s Gatdula pointed out that the BOC was one of the first government agencies that complied with Republic Act 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, which urged the State to “take appropriate measures to promote transparency in each agency with regard to the manner of transacting with the public, which shall encompass a program for the adoption of simplified procedures that will reduce red tape and expedite transactions in government.”

In effect, PLSA was saying Atty Belen’s order goes against the intent of RA 9485.

In the same letter, the association suggested that Atty Belen’s office simply coordinate with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to obtain copies of cargo and passenger manifests as mandated under EO 493.

Signed December 3, 1991, EO 493 decreed that the “coasting and passenger manifests required for all domestic vessels shall be reduced to three copies, instead of seven, and shall henceforth be submitted to the PPA. All agencies concerned requiring copies of said manifests for their own use shall secure the same from PPA.”

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