The Philippine Ports Authority is formulating guidelines for a container registry and monitoring system
The system will record real-time location, status and movement of containers passing in and out of terminals under PPA’s jurisdiction
The guidelines require approval of the PPA Board and will undergo public consultation
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is formulating guidelines for a container registry and monitoring system (CRMS).
The proposed system will record in real-time location, status and movement of containers passing in and out of terminals under PPA’s jurisdiction, PPA Port Operations and Service Department (POSD) manager Atty. Hiyasmin Delos Santos said during a presentation at the recent 165th Maritime Forum hosted by the Maritime League.
In a text message to PortCalls, Delos Santos said implementing guidelines will contain operational procedures and business rules of the proposed system, which will have to be approved by the PPA Board and undergo public consultation.
Last May 26, PPA issued Special Order No. 216-2021 creating an electronic container registry and monitoring committee. On May 28 the committee proposed guidelines for electronic tagging of imported containers. A virtual public hearing on the proposal, which was then presented as a container tagging and tracking system (CTTS), was conducted on June 15.
PPA assistant general manager for finance and administration Elmer Nonnatus Cadano, during the June 15 public hearing, said the proposed system aims to improve trade facilitation and address concerns with logistics efficiency and costs, such as the long-standing issue of unreturned container deposits.
Cadano said the idea of a monitoring system came up during discussions on logistics concerns and the role of ports in the country’s security between PPA and the Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the private sector.
Addressing shippers’ complaints
Delos Santos, during the same public hearing, said the crafting of the proposed system’s guidelines will consider complaints shippers brought before the Shippers’ Protection Office (SPO).
SPO, the secretariat of which is PPA’s POSD, was created last year as a temporary measure to protect the public during a state of national calamity “from the impact and effects of exorbitant and unreasonable shipping fees resulting in increased prices for domestic consumers.”
Delos Santos said complaints received by SPO have been mostly about container yard charges, return of empty containers, unreturned container deposit, demurrage and detention charges, and other alleged unreasonable charges imposed by shipping lines.
Delos Santos noted the proposed system seeks to address these complaints, particularly those on unreturned container deposits, the amount ranging from P10,000 to P2.208 million.
The CRMS aims to streamline procedures related to the entry, scheduling, loading, unloading, release, and movement of all foreign-owned containers entering and leaving ports under PPA jurisdiction.
It will “establish an explicit and non-repudiable record of accountabilities to enable PPA to monitor the movement of foreign-owned shipping containers from the time of entry, discharge, return, storage, and re-export.”
Moreover, it seeks “to promote competitiveness and provide cost saving mechanisms that mutually benefit importers and foreign carriers by offering container insurance from authorized insurance providers as an available option in addition to the current container deposit and container maintenance fees.”
Delos Santos said while there is still no amount proposed for the container insurance fee, this should be lower than the container deposit stakeholders provide to shipping lines.
The CRMS guidelines also took into consideration Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 08-2019, which provides rules on the admission, movement, and re-exportation of containers at seaports.
Under CAO 08-2019, containers arriving in the country, whether loaded or empty, should be re-exported within 90 days from the date of discharge of the last package; otherwise, they will be considered as importation requiring payment of duties and taxes.
Further, the CRMS is seen to implement the country’s commitment to the United Nations Office on Drugs Crime Container Control Programs, which requires implementation of a container identification, accountability, and protection program.
Under CRMS, PPA will develop and procure technology infrastructure and tracking devices or equipment solutions needed to implement the proposed system.
PPA will implement the system for collection of insurance fee and provide an online facility where the transacting public, customs brokers and importers can avail of the container insurance coverage from authorized insurance providers.
PPA will be responsible for running and implementing the insurance fee collection system, while a service provider will collect the insurance fee.
On the service fee, PPA Information & Communication Technology Department acting manager Gervacio Alfredo Balatbat said this is subject to further study as the system will have to be harmonized with existing systems of terminal and cargo-handling operators.
Asked who will pay for the service, Delos Santos said the cost initially “will be shared by the shippers because that would be for their benefit” as the intention is insurance fee will replace container deposits. PPA will, however, also “share the burden of maintaining and acquiring the system.”
Port user raises issues
Stakeholders present during the June 15 public hearing voiced concerns over the proposed system.
Port Users Confederation of the Philippines (PUCP) vice president for customs affairs Julita Lopez said the proposed system might just duplicate the monitoring systems already in place for containers, particularly those set for discharge from terminals.
BOC is implementing the Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargoes (E-TRACC) system to track and monitor the inland movement of cargoes bound for or in transit to other customs facilities, container yard/container freight stations, Freeport zones, and economic zones.
PPA’s Delos Santos said the agency does not intend to duplicate existing systems but rather interface CRMS with them, adding CRMS will serve a different purpose from BOC’s E-TRACC.
Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) general manager Atty. Maximino Cruz pointed out the PPA system may be in conflict with one of BOC’s mandates, which is to monitor movement and dwell time of import containers as decreed by the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and implemented through CAO 08-2019.
Cruz added that operations of container yards/depots are also now spelled out under the CMTA.
PPA’s Delos Santos countered that BOC’s mandate is to collect duties and taxes while PPA’s is to regulate movement of containers within the port. She explained that when a container enters the port, it falls under the jurisdiction of PPA as mandated by Presidential Decree 857.
As for container deposits and container fees, Cruz said their imposition is a commercial decision made by shipping lines, some of which do not collect such fees. (PUCP’s Lopez pointed out only one shipping line has stopped collection of the container deposit.)
On the matter of the insurance fee, Cruz noted this only amounts to P40 per container and collected to cover any loss of container, an equipment owned by the shipping line.
Asked if AISL members are in favor of the CRMS “sans the insurance requirement,” Cruz said the association needs to see the full text of the proposed system and will submit a position paper. – Roumina Pablo