Customs commissioner Alberto Lina said he will soon issue a memo that requires terminal operators to weigh import containers within the port before their discharge.
At the same time, he announced plans to require trucks to register with the BOC come January 2016.
During the Government and Private Sector Coordinating Conference on Port Area Traffic Management on October 14, Lina agreed with the suggestion of truckers to have import containers that are subject to weighing mandatorily weighed within the terminals, and not by the roadside.
A memorandum of agreement can then be signed with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), compelling the latter to honor weight receipts provided to truckers by terminal operators, Lina added. The weight receipts may be used to determine whether shipments are overloaded or not.
Jun Hermes Balita, government liaison and customer service division manager of Manila South Harbor port operator Asian Terminals Inc., explained that only export containers are currently mandatorily weighed; import boxes are weighed only upon client request and covered by a BOC directive.
Weighing of trucks is stipulated under Republic Act No. 8794 (An Act Imposing a Motor Vehicle’s Charge on Owners of All Types of Vehicle and for other Purposes) or the Anti-overloading Law.
Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines director Ruperto Bayocot noted there was an earlier proposal to weigh trucks inside terminals, to which the DPWH and the Philippine Ports Authority had agreed. The proposal did not see fruition and trucks are still being weighed on roads using DPWH’s portable weighing scales, a practice which Bayocot said causes traffic, promotes corruption, and raises questions on the accuracy of the weighing scales.
Lina said he approves of the suggestion because the BOC can also use data from the terminals and validate them against those that they need to submit to the Department of Finance and to Congress.
The customs chief also suggested that containers undergo x-ray examination right after unloading from the vessel although he acknowledged this would require a change in the setup of terminals.
As for the planned truck registration with the BOC, Lina said in exchange the agency can provide truckers with a list of importers and their status (green, super green lane, yellow, red, double red) that will allow truckers to turn down dubious requests and avoid involvement in smuggling activities.
He added that to facilitate trade, BOC will soon issue a memorandum requiring a much earlier submission of sea freight manifest to give the customs agency more time to assess incoming shipments. Initial talks had been conducted with stakeholders on the proposal.
Under the plan, the BOC will require submission of the sea manifest 24 hours before vessel departure, and the filing of import entry 24 hours before vessel arrival.
– Text and photo by Roumina Pablo