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PPA general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) aims to pilot test this month or in early March the Centralized Ticketing System (CTS), an online application procedure in support of an integrated vessel booking and payment system for roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) ports, with Matnog in Sorsogon as the study port.

“We should be able to pilot test that I think February or early March. We’re thinking of installing that in Matnog [port],” PPA general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago told PortCalls in a recent chance interview.

The CTS, under PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 12-2019, aims to serve as a real-time system with a “single window” concept for processing on a single online portal all the transactions needed to be done by the government, shipping companies, port terminal operators, passenger terminal building (PTB) operators, and the general public.

The system seeks to provide online services for the convenience and benefit of port users, attain overall ease of doing business, get rid of fixers and scalpers, and improve port processes for maritime safety and security.

Santiago said Matnog port in Sorsogon has been chosen for the pilot test as it “perennially [has] a problem” with scalpers, or people who buy large quantities of tickets early with the sole intention of reselling them at a higher price later.

PPA is currently talking with system vendors about providing proofs of concept for the system, and afterwards it will be preparing the terms of reference for bidding out the system.

PPA was supposed to pilot test the CTS on January 15 but had to hold off to make adjustments first, such as enabling payment readers to detect between authentic and counterfeit bills, and read the new P20 coin design.

If the pilot test in Matnog works, Santiago said, “hopefully we should be able to procure [the system] for the key ports within the year.”

The CTS will be adopted in other passenger ports such as Batangas, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Lucena, and Tabaco, among others.

PPA former Port Operations and Services Department manager Lilian Javier, in a presentation last August 2019, said implementing CTS, then named Online Ticketing System, would also be complying with the International Maritime Organization’s mandatory requirement for the electronic exchange of information on cargo, crew, and passengers as part of the revised Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL). The FAL aims to harmonize procedures for a ship’s arrival and stay at, and departure from, a port.

In addition, CTS complies with Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business Act, as the government “wishes to establish a unified system for the electronic exchange of information for all port-related transport modes.”

Javier noted that some shipping lines have already started offering online booking with bus booking component, while others still have no available online booking platform.

Under the current process, passengers, usually carrying heavy luggage, traditionally have to wait in line to book their tickets without assurance of getting accommodation. Once tickets are booked, they must line up again to pay the PTB fees and secure pre-inspection before they can enter the PTB and later board the vessel.

AO 12-2019, which took effect on December 24, 2019, applies to domestic Ro-Ro/passenger ships calling at ports under the jurisdiction of PPA and the vessel’s passengers.

Under AO 12-2019, PPA will be responsible for the system software, office space and hardware to be used in the booking/payment processes at PPA ports.

Shipping lines, on the other hand, will be responsible for other office spaces and equipment, and facilities not provided by PPA.

Prior to full implementation of CTS, PPA will issue the guidelines and conduct a pilot test at selected PPA ports with the participation of selected shipping lines, while the designated service provider will conduct an orientation on the system.

AO 12-2019 further states that “if not part of CTS, shipping lines will not be allowed to berth for purposes of loading passengers.” – Roumina Pablo

Photo from the Department of Transportation

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