DOTr to establish Office for Multimodal Transport and Logistics

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
  • The Department of Transportation is establishing an Office for Multimodal Transport and Logistics
  • Transport undersecretary Elmer Francisco Sarmiento said the department has drafted the order for submission to the President
  • An executive order will appoint DOTr as the national body overseeing the registration of multimodal transport operators

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is moving forward in establishing an Office for Multimodal Transport and Logistics, according to maritime undersecretary Elmer Francisco Sarmiento.

Speaking at the Procurement and Supply Institute of Asia World Annual Conference, Sarmiento said the DOTr has secured Certificates of Concurrence from internal offices and attached agencies. The certificates pave the way for the resubmission of the request for executive order (EO) approval, creating the said office.

The EO will also designate DOTr as the national competent body overseeing the registration of multimodal transport operators (MTO). The Office for Multimodal Transport and Logistics, to be situated within the DOTr, will be responsible for crafting policies and regulations governing MTOs.

The creation of the office aligns with the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Framework Agreement on Multimodal Transport (AFAMT).

In an interview with PortCalls at the sidelines of the event, Sarmiento said they have drafted the EO for submission to the Office of the President for approval, targeting completion within the year.

The EO will also signal the transfer of accreditation of seafreight forwarders from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to DOTr, which already oversees all other forms of transportation services. Sarmiento noted that discussions with DTI about this transfer are pending.

Under the AFAMT, the creation of a national accreditation body is a prerequisite for local MTOs of ASEAN member nations to operate in other ASEAN countries.

MTOs registered with their country’s national body gain benefits under AFAMT, ensuring a consistent liability regime across ASEAN. This facilitates market access for members to operate in other ASEAN nations under harmonized standards, aligning with international best practices and conventions.

The AFAMT, concluded in 2005, is ratified and in force in several ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. The Philippines committed to AFAMT in 2005, but challenges arose due to conflicting roles assigned by EO 514 series of 1992, designating DTI as the accrediting body for sea freight forwarders.

Efforts were made in the previous administration to designate DOTr as the national certifying body, but a memorandum of agreement with DTI for the transfer of this function was not signed, and a new administration took over.

EO 514 of 1992 transformed the Philippine Shippers’ Council into the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB). PSB’s functions were later transferred to the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau in 2014 as part of DTI’s rationalization plan. The supply chain role of PSB was then moved to the Supply Chain and Logistics Management Division.

Filipino freight forwarders have long advocated for the designation of a national certifying body and the supervision transfer of sea freight forwarders to the transport department.

According to the National Economic and Development Authority, to pursue free trade agreements, especially with Europe, the Philippines must have the capacity to issue single administrative documents that MTOs must sign. – Roumina Pablo

READ: Industry expert pushes multimodal transport in ASEAN for cost savings