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Asian Terminals empowered to handle berth assignments at Batangas port

Starting February 1, port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) will have the authority to approve and issue berth assignments at the Port of Batangas Phase 1. This power used to reside with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

PPA Administrative Order (AO) 01-2017 lay down the guidelines for managing berth assignments at the Port of Batangas Phase 1, which includes passenger, bulk cargo, and roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) terminals.

The order also provides guidelines for the smooth transfer of authority to approve and issue berth assignments from PPA Port Management Office-Batangas to ATI Batangas, Inc., the authorized operator of the port.

In 2015, ATI renewed its contract to operate, maintain, and develop the port for another 10 years.

PPA said the AO also aims to prevent damage to port facilities and vessels calling the port. Under the AO, ATI Batangas will be responsible for managing berth assignments on the pier side of Phase 1.

The common user and the “first come-first served” basis, based on estimated time of arrival of the vessel, will be the general rule in determining berthing priorities for vessels.

However, priority to berth is to be given to vessels in distress or state of emergency where life or property is endangered; vessels of the Philippine government during official business, and vessels of foreign governments on goodwill; vessels carrying embarking and disembarking passengers; vessels carrying supplies and relief goods, including perishable goods for unloading without delay; vessels intending solely for loading fresh water, bunkering or victualing before departing for another port within the allowable period of time; and other vessels when public interest so requires.

All notice of arrivals (NOA)/applications for berth (ABA) must be filed by the shipping companies or ship agents with ATI, which will approve and assign the berth and provide PPA with a copy of the approved NOA/ABA.

ATI will also be responsible for issuing shifting orders to vessels to be moved to the anchorage area. PPA should be immediately provided with a copy of the shifting order to assign the coordinates of the vessel’s designated anchorage area. The shifting of vessel to the anchorage area does not require clearance by PPA, notes AO 01-2017. Any vessel that remains at berth despite the shifting order will be penalized under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 857, as amended, or the revised charter of PPA.

The departing clearance of vessels, however, must continue to be secured from the PPA before ATI allows them to leave.

“In order to maximize the utilization of available berths at Phase 1 Port of Batangas, vessels are prohibited [from undertaking] repairs at berth,” AO 01-2017 says.

The order further notes that PPA still retains its oversight authority and regulatory powers over berth management at Batangas Port Phase 1 “to ensure the efficient management of berthing facilities and the smooth flow of cargo and passengers in and out of the port.”

PPA, through PMO Batangas, shall also have the power to collect port charges from vessels and shall still have the power to resolve conflict of berthing assignments arising from emergency, crisis, natural calamities, strikes, and pier congestion.

“Nothing in these guidelines shall preclude PPA from withdrawing the authority granted herein for failure to achieve the intentions of this order,” AO 01-2017 says.

Defiance of or non-compliance to the shifting order issued by PPA or ATI by the master of the vessel or the shipping line owners or their representatives will result in penalties levied on the offending person or company, as prescribed under Section 43 of P.D. No. 857 and under any other applicable laws, the order points out. – Text and photo by Roumina Pablo



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