PPA bent on implementing container monitoring system within the year

PPA bent on implementing container monitoring system within the year
Image by Thomas G. from Pixabay
  • Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Jay Daniel Santiago said digitalization is a priority this year, with the container registry and monitoring system for foreign containers possibly implemented within the first half of the year
  • Various stakeholders oppose the system, saying it is an expensive, non-value adding regulatory burden that encroaches on the functions of the Bureau of Customs
  • Santiago said there will also be new regulations this year meant to address overstaying cargo containers
  • In the works, too, is a joint regulation among PPA, Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard on the handling of ship and marine waste

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is determined to implement the controversial container registry and monitoring system for foreign containers within the year, hopefully in the first half, according to general manager Jay Daniel Santiago.

This, after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during his last meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council, manifested he wants the system “implemented as soon as possible”, said Santiago in a media briefing on January 18.

No definite adoption date for the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) can be pinned though because of “certain regulatory and legal compliances that we need to undertake and to comply with.”

One of these requirements is the regulatory impact assessment (RIA) on proposed implementing operational guidelines (IOG) of PPA Administrative Order No. 04-2021. AO 04-2021 prescribes the policy on the registration and monitoring of foreign containers entering and leaving PPA ports. It requires foreign containers to register in the TOP-CRMS and to secure a container insurance policy.

An RIA is required under Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, when proposing a new regulation to ensure it is of good quality.

Santiago said PPA has already filed the regulatory impact notification with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

The port authority said it conceptualized TOP-CRMS to address two stakeholder concerns: the long-standing issue on the return of container deposits by foreign shipping lines, and the management of return of empty containers.

Since the system was proposed in June 2021, various stakeholders have opposed the measure saying it is an expensive, non-value adding regulatory burden that encroaches on the functions of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

READ: Business groups call anew for scrapping of PPA container monitoring system

Santiago said he thinks “it’s just a matter of more dialogue and information dissemination” for stakeholders to really understand the system.

He noted the proposed AO 04-2021 IOG has undergone several iterations. “The problem is some people are still talking about it based on the original draft after it has gone through three, four, five revisions.”

He said revisions to the draft have already considered inputs of stakeholders from various public consultations and focused group discussions.

The PPA chief said the agency does not claim TOP-CRMS as the “best solution” to stakeholder concerns, and is open to scrapping it if it does not work as intended.

“There is no perfect solution. Maybe there are some other technologies… If there is, let it be put forward. But as long as wala pa kaming nakikitang ganon (we see none), this is the best idea that we (can) come up so far to help address the immediate problem,” Santiago explained.

He said PPA has yet to pay the joint venture of NextIX, Inc. and Shiptek Solutions Corp. because the government does not pay “ahead of any service” and because “the payment will be coming on a per use basis.”

The joint venture was the lone bidder for the project in March 2022. The contract was awarded in April 2022 while the notice to proceed was issued in May 2022.

READ: PPA awards P877.6M container monitoring contract to joint venture

Under the proposed IOG, forwarders, customs brokers, importers, and consignees should secure container insurance through TOP-CRMS as proof of container insurance coverage per container will be a requirement for container discharge from the port. A fee of P980 (exclusive of value-added tax) will be paid per container as monitoring fee and container insurance.

PPA said the container insurance will replace the container deposit and ensure the containers are returned to the shipping lines.

Stakeholders, however, questioned the purpose of the container insurance, noting that this is an expense as opposed to the container deposit, which gets to be returned albeit over a longer period.

For the utilization of the PPA container staging facility and other container depot or yards owned and operated by PPA terminal operators, the shipping line will be charged container yard handling and storage fees of P3,520 exclusive of VAT per container.

All empty foreign containers scheduled for re-export must be registered must be registered with the TOP-CRMS at least four days prior to the estimated date of departure. At least 72 hours prior to departure, the empty containers for re-export are required to be endorsed to the PPA container staging facility.

Meanwhile, Santiago said there will be new regulations this year meant to address overstaying cargo containers. He noted PPA is willing to accredit more container yards, provided they commit to providing a fixed number of slots and their yard system is integrated into PPA’s.

The PPA chief also said the agency along with the Maritime Industry Authority and Philippine Coast Guard just concluded an executive committee meeting that tackled a joint regulation on the handling of ship and marine waste.