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Berth assignments in Batangas rest with port operator, says PPA

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is transferring the authority to approve berth applications and issue berth assignments at Batangas Container Terminal (BCT) to port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI).

In PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 06-2020, which takes effect on September 4, the responsibility of managing berth assignments at the pier side of BCT is transferred to ATI Batangas, Inc. (ATIB), the ATI subsidiary which operates the port. The authority is presently with PPA’s port management office (PMO) in Batangas.

In 2017, PPA also transferred to ATI the authority over berthing assignments at Port of Batangas Phase 1, which includes the passenger, bulk, and roll-on/roll-off terminals. BCT is Phase 2.

In determining berthing priorities of vessels, the common-use and “first-come, first-served” basis will be the general rule to be followed, according to AO 06-2020.

However, the PMO, through its harbor master, should at times oversee berth management at BCT, especially during extraordinary conditions, such as inclement weather, port congestion, and other conditions on port safety where decisions on vessel movements within the port call for the port manager’s approval.

Incoming foreign container vessels are given priority to berth at BCT. However, in extraordinary circumstances the following vessels will have priority:

  • Vessels in distress or state of emergency when life or property is endangered, unless berthing is not required in such emergency. A vessel berthing solely to bunker, load fresh water or victual will have the same priority as a vessel in distress.
  • Vessels of the Philippine government during official business, and vessels of foreign government on goodwill visit to the Philippines.
  • Vessels carrying embarking/disembarking passengers.
  • Vessels carrying supplies and relief goods including perishable goods for unloading without delay.
  • Vessels intending solely to load fresh water, bunker or victual before being able to depart for another port, provided such stay time will not exceed the allowable period of time.
  • Other vessels when public interest so requires.

All notices of arrivals and applications for berth (ABA) for arriving vessels should be filed by the masters of vessels or ship agents with ATIB, with copies sent to the Marine Section and Vessel Traffic Management System of PMO Batangas.

Berthing meetings are mandatory for purposes of berth allocation. ATIB should allocate the berth and provide PMO Batangas copies of the approved ABA and daily berthing order.

Furthermore, ATIB will be responsible for issuing the shifting order to vessels that will be shifted from one berth to another. Shifting of a vessel from berth to anchorage areas requires prior clearance by PPA.

If the master of the vessel, shipping line owner or their authorized representative/s does not comply with the shifting order of PPA/ATIB, the person/company involved will be subject to the penalties prescribed under Presidential Decree No. 857 (Revised Charter of PPA) and other any applicable laws.

Departure clearance of vessels, meanwhile, will continue to be secured from and granted by PPA, and ATIB should ensure the PPA clearance is secured before allowing a vessel to depart.

To utilize fully the available berths at BCT, repairs of vessels at berth are prohibited.

PMO Batangas still has oversight authority and regulatory powers over berth management at BCT “to ensure the safe and efficient management of berthing facilities and the smooth flow of cargo and passengers in and out of the port.”

PPA, through PMO Batangas, has the power to resolve conflicts in berthing assignments arising from emergencies, natural calamities, strikes, and pier congestion.

PPA, through the Office of the General Manager or Office of the Assistant General Manager for Operations, has authority to override berth management directives of PMO Batangas and/or ATIB.

The power to collect port charges due from vessels remains with PMO Batangas. – Roumina Pablo


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