Home » 3PL/4PL, Breaking News, Customs & Trade, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » JAO fast tracks release of cargoes to address port congestion

The Philippine government is expediting release of containers to prevent port congestion during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Under Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 20-01, “clear and coherent inter-agency guidelines” were released to “resolve specific issues arising from restrictions imposed under the enhanced community quarantine to prevent congestion at the ports which may unduly cause disruption in the supply chain and impede availability of basic necessities and essential goods.”

The JAO covers reefer containers and dry vans, specifically shipments of time-sensitive chilled cargoes like pharmaceuticals/medicines, fruits, vegetables, chilled meat or other foodstuffs; frozen cargoes like fish and meat; and dry goods like out-of-gauge (OOG) cargoes.

The measures include:

  • Reduced processing time: Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Plant Industry, National Meat Inspection Service, and Food and Drug Administration will fast track processing and approval of permits and licenses for the immediate release of refrigerated and dry vans not later than three working days from issuance of the JAO (signed on April 2 and takes effect immediately after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation or the Official Gazette, and will remain in effect until the state of public health emergency is lifted).
  • Reefers should be pulled out of the terminals within seven days, except for chilled cargoes which are given five days from the issuance of JAO 20-01. Penalties will be imposed by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to ensure consignees/importers withdraw their cargo in the schedule prescribed under JAO 20-01.
  • Reefers unclaimed three days after the deadline set will be declared abandoned.
  • Cargoes at the terminal beyond 30 days from date of discharge should be withdrawn within five days from the issuance of JAO 20-01.
  • Terminal operators should pull out reefers from the customs yard and relocate to another facility where appropriate government authority can determine if the goods inside are still viable. Transfer costs will be shouldered by the box owner/shipping line. If the shipment is found to be unfit for human consumption and condemned by BOC, shipping lines will defray cost of condemnation to be carried out by the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-accredited condemnation contractor. The disposal contractor that fails to complete pullout of containers from the facility within five days from the issuance of JAO 20-01 should pay BOC liquidated damages. BOC may also impose an administrative penalty of suspension for one year from participating in the agency’s competitive bidding process.
  • Reefer containers set to arrive after the issuance of JAO 20-01 within 10 days from discharge should be withdrawn or they will be declared abandoned.
  • The BOC will give priority to processing of arriving cargoes, particularly foods, medicine, medical and basic necessities, and may direct shipping lines to retain reefers on board vessels and/or return them to the transshipment port.
  • Lodgment of and online filing of goods declaration by importers/consignees is two days from date of discharge. BOC will issue the final assessment on goods thereby declared no later than 24 hours from the date of online filing of the goods declaration.
  • Importers/consignees should pay, preferably online, duties, taxes, and other charges within 24 hours from the date of issuance of final assessment by BOC.
  • Importers/consignees have 24 hours to claim the goods from date of payment or they will be declared abandoned.
  • Shipping lines should release all delivery orders (DO) within 24 hours upon payment by the consignee of all shipping charges. If the shipping line fails to do so, the demurrage charge for each day of delay should be waived.
  • For reefers, the lodgment and online filing of goods declaration by importers/consignees will be prior to vessel arrival or within 48 hours from the date of discharge. BOC should issue the final assessment of the goods thereby declared no later than 24 hours from the date of online filing of the goods declaration. Importers/consignees will pay duties, taxes and other charges within 24 hours from date of issuance of the final assessment by BOC, with preference for online payments. Importers/consignees have 24 hours to claim goods from date of payment or they will be declared abandoned.
  • BOC will accept filing of provisional goods declaration in accordance with the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and as implemented by Customs Memorandum Order No. 07-2020 (guidelines for granting tax and duty exemption on imported medical supplies and equipment needed to address the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the Philippines).
  • BOC will relax its selectivity process for food, medicine, medical and other basic necessities, and adopt the “green lane” process flow for importers/consignees jointly identified with the DTI Bureau of Import Services (BIS), based on a set of criteria. These identified importers/consignees will be subject to post-entry audit.
  • BOC will facilitate processing of dry vans in accordance with its risk management and selectivity system.
  • In accordance with Section 419 (Examination of Goods) of the CMTA, and the Memorandum of Agreement between BOC and the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc., (CCBI) and to facilitate cargo inspection while minimizing people movement, CCBI should make available representatives, in the absence of consignee/representative, in the examination of “red lane” shipments. The CCBI representative should attest to the examination report by the BOC examiner at the designated examination area.
  • PPA will provide free storage of goods cleared for release by BOC for a maximum of five days from date of discharge. After which, PPA will move the cargo to another designated location at the expense of the importer/consignee.
  • OOG cargoes should be immediately withdrawn by importers/consignees within the free storage period of five days from date of discharge. Otherwise, PPA will transfer OOG cargoes to a designated offsite location.
  • All refrigerated containers where no goods declaration has been lodged and filed within seven days from discharge of the last package from the vessel will be declared abandoned and subject to immediate disposition.
  • BOC should continue to implement a system allowing for electronic lodgment and online filing of goods declaration, including online payment of duties and taxes, acceptance of electronic copes of import permits, clearances and other documents to expedite transaction processing.
  • Importers should email the application for permit /clearance together with the attached scanned documentary requirements, and the regulatory agency is urged to set up a system in which the approving authority can signify approval through electronic signature.
  • Overstaying reefers stored or kept at terminals should be immediately transferred to a location to be jointly designated by BOC and PPA.
  • In case reefers are transferred to alternative reefer sites for storage, all expenses to be incurred will be borne by the terminal operator, without prejudice to its right to collect from the cargo owner, importer, or consignee, or from their respective agents, or customs brokers, applicable costs, port and terminal charges and other fees.
  • Lease rental for alternative reefer sites will be borne by terminal operators subject to collection of appropriate handling charges, forwarding, and storage charges from the beneficial owner.
  • Port operators Asian Terminals Inc. and International Container Terminal Services, Inc (ICTSI) are directed to issue an electronic gate pass to importers/customs brokers that can be emailed to truckers to be presented upon entry/exit to the terminal.
  • Shipping lines should accept online applications; issue electronic delivery orders; accept electronic copies of bank acknowledgment receipts as proof of payment; and electronically transmit the container release order to port operators.
  • To inform the public of the need to immediately withdraw their reefers, BOC, DTI, DA, PPA, and terminal operators should publish the list of reefer containers pending in the port.
  • Shipping lines are required to operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and implement a system allowing for electronic processing of shipping documents, including those related to the payment of charges and issuance of delivery orders.
  • Port operators and offdock facilities, whether for laden and empty containers, should remain open for 24 hours and expedite the entry/exit of trucks with confirmed bookings to pick-up/deliver containers and ensure 24/7 operation of the Terminal Appointment Booking System.

The JAO implements the order of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to address disruptions in the supply chain. It was signed on April 2 by the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture (DA), BOC, and PPA.

READ: Port shutdown looms as overstaying cargoes clog Manila terminals

The order was issued after port operator ICTSI on March 27 said Manila International Container Terminal is “coming to a point where it is becoming impossible to operate in an efficient manner.”

BOC, PPA, DTI, DA, and other concerned government agencies will issue their respective issuances to further carry out and implement the provisions of JAO 20-01.– Roumina Pablo

Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

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