PPA lacks jurisdiction over containers outside its ports, stakeholders insist

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PPA lacks jurisdiction over containers outside its ports, stakeholders insist
Various logistics associations in a press conference on January 27 called anew for the revocation of a Philippine Ports Authority policy on container registry and monitoring. Photo by Mines Pablo.
  • The Philippine Ports Authority’s jurisdiction over containers is only within its ports and not when boxes leave its terminals, say stakeholders against the ports authority’s policy on container registry and monitoring system
  • This runs counter to PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago’s earlier statement that the agency has jurisdiction over equipment and transaction that “goes through the PPA terminals.”
  • Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations vice president Rina Papa called the policy that establishes the monitoring system “not only anomalous” but “also delusional”
  • Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon said TOP-CRMS may result in higher logistics cost, which will only be passed on to consumers

The Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) jurisdiction over containers is only within its ports and does not extend beyond its confines, say stakeholders opposing the ports authority’s policy on container registry and monitoring system.

This runs counter to PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago’s earlier statement that the agency has jurisdiction over equipment and transaction that “go through the PPA terminals.”

In a January 27 press conference called by 17 business groups opposed to the system, the lack of PPA jurisdiction over containers outside its terminals was stressed by Mark Matthew Parco, president of Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA), one of the 17 associations that also earlier signed an open letter to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr, imploring him to scrap PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 04-2021.

READ: Scrap PPA container monitoring system, 17 business groups urge Marcos

PPA AO 04-2021 prescribes the policy on the registration and monitoring of foreign containers entering and leaving PPA ports. It requires foreign containers to be registered with PPA’s Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) and to secure a container insurance policy.

Parco said PPA’s mandate is to develop ports “so that it will grow the economy in the location where the ports are located” but with the container monitoring system, it is trying to “extend their mandate outside”.

PPA earlier said TOP-CRMS addresses the long-standing issue on return of container deposits imposed by foreign shipping lines, and the return of foreign empty containers.

The 17 groups in the open letter said AO 04-2021 and TOP-CRMS “threaten to cripple the transport and logistics industries and the national economy as a whole” as it will worsen inflation, will not be a solution to port congestion, and is a “clear usurpation of Customs function.”

Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations vice president Rina Papa, during the press conference, said while TOP-CRMS is a digital mechanism, “we do not know if it is a solution.”

She added that AO 04-2021 “is not only anomalous, it’s also delusional.” Papa said PPA’s claims on the objectives of the system, particularly on anti-smuggling and lowering of costs, are false.

She said TOP-CRMS was presented to Malacañang during a Private Sector Advisory Council meeting as a “port decongestion and anti-smuggling digital solution” even as PPA later admitted the anti-smuggling objective is only incidental to what the system aims to achieve. PPA earlier said Marcos during this meeting manifested he wants the system “implemented as soon as possible.”

Moreover, Papa said smuggling “happens in paper inside the ports” and not on the roads. She said to curb smuggling, the existing system of checking cargoes by the Bureau of Customs should be reinforced.

On PPA’s claim that TOP-CRMS will lower costs, Papa countered this can be achieved by cutting processes, not increasing them. For truckers alone, AO 04-2021 adds six steps to the process, she said.

Papa also claimed members of the trucking organization that now supports TOP-CRMS are actually against the system; only the association’s leaders support it. Papa said her group is conducting a signature campaign and is finding out that member truckers are against AO 04-2021.

Papa did not name the association but Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines president Maria Zapata earlier said she now supports the system after initially opposing it. Zapata said this is the first time a government agency has stepped up to finally address the long-standing issue on return of container deposits and return of empty containers.

RELATED READ: CCBI, CTAP support PPA container monitoring system

At the same press conference, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon feared TOP-CRMS may result in higher logistics cost that will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

The 17 business groups in their letter to Marcos estimate that the direct financial cost alone from the additional insurance, transaction, and trucking fees required under TOP-CRMS will translate to an almost 50% increase in the cost of importing goods or, in real terms, an additional annual import cost estimated to be at least P35 billion.

Under the proposed implementing operational guidelines of AO 04-2021, forwarders, customs brokers, importers, and consignees should secure container insurance in the amount of P980 plus value-added tax per container through TOP-CRMS before a container is discharged. Moreover, all empty containers for re-export are required to be endorsed to a PPA-designated staging facility at least 72 hours prior to departure and this entails a service fee of P3,520 plus VAT per container beyond the first three days. – Roumina Pablo