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Starting August 7, all port service providers, including customs brokers, shipping lines and agent, freight forwarders and truckers, will have to secure accreditation from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The new accreditation guidelines under PPA Administrative Order (AO) 06-2019 cover all corporations, partnerships, single proprietorships, or entities that intend to provide services at ports under PPA’s jurisdiction. The order also standardizes fees for the issuance of accreditation.

AO 06-2019 repeals AO 10-2018 (guidelines on the accreditation of port service providers) issued in October 2018.

AO 06-2019 specifically identifies services that will need accreditation: customs brokerage, shipping agent, shipping line, transport service/cargo forwarding/freight forwarding/hauling/trucking/shuttling/bus, roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) services, and environmental service management (ESM), among them. These services were not identified by AO 10-2018, which had only required accreditation for “other ancillary services”.

AO 06-2019 also requires accreditation for bunkering, booking/ticketing office, canteen service, cargo checking service, cargo-handling service, cargo surveying service, chandling, cleaning service, engineering contractor, container repair, communication service, equipment hire, equipment repair, fumigation, laundering, lighterage/barging service, mooring/unmooring, passenger terminal service, pilotage service, port terminal service, parking/garage service, reproduction service, shop/store, towing/tugging service, vessel repair/maintenance, waste disposal service, water supplier, water taxi, weighbridge/truck scale, and other businesses and services that may be classified by PPA as port service. All these services were also specified by AO 10-2018 under an annex titled “port services”.

Accreditation under AO 06-2019 shall be valid in all ports under PPA’s jurisdiction.

Exempt from accreditation are private non-commercial port operators/owners and their port service providers, except cargo-handling and ESM for ports, provided that when such private non-commercial ports require their service providers to comply with the PPA accreditation certificate, said private ports shall notify PPA of such intent. Private commercial ports that will not comply with the new accreditation policy shall be subject to cancellation and revocation of its certificate of registration and permit to operate.

Seeking exemption

It must be noted that even prior to the issuance of AO 06-2019, PPA had required port service providers to secure accreditation before filing for a PPA permit to operate. This is on the basis of an October 8, 2018 memo from Elijio Fortajada, acting port manager of Port Management Office NCR South, who directed “all port ancillary service providers, private port operators (and) other parties concerned (government and private)” to secure PPA accreditation to provide port services in terminals and areas under the administrative jurisdiction of PMO NCR South”.

It seems though that AO 10-2018 has not been fully complied with.

Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. president Adones Carmona claims customs brokers have been exempt from this requirement since the time of former PPA general manager Oscar Sevilla in the early 2000s.

Carmona and Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Inc. president Marilyn Alberto told PortCalls separately they are not aware of any public hearing or consultation prior to the issuance of AO 06-2019. Both are considering seeking exemption of their sectors from coverage of AO 06-2019.

Alberto pointed out freight forwarders are already accredited by other government agencies, a view shared by the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines.

CTAP president Rupert Bayocot said the organization’s board will soon meet to discuss AO 06-2019, which had already been previously opposed by its members.

Philippine Ship Agents Association told PortCalls it had earlier tried requesting for exemption of its members from accreditation but to no avail.

AO 06-2019 notes that PPA “recognizes that port service providers help deliver efficient port operations, promote the interest and welfare of maritime/port communities, and secure the long term prosperity of ports.” Thus, the authority “shall ensure that a port service provider has the legal, financial and operational capacity to perform as such.”

An accreditation certificate for every port service shall be required before the award of port services contract or permit to operate is issued. An accredited port service provider must also comply with rules and regulations that may be promulgated by PPA pursuant to law.

In an interview with PortCalls on July 9, PPA general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago said the new accreditation policy was issued because “we need to know who are inside the port. We need to make sure na yung pumapasok dyan [those who enter there] we properly vetted them, that they are running a legitimate business, that they have a legitimate reason why they are in the port.”

He clarified that PPA will respect the certification of other port service providers with other government agencies, and will not require them to produce any new document.

An applicant for accreditation must be a single proprietorship, cooperative, partnership, or corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws, or a professional and licensed individual.

Moreover, an applicant must not have an owner, incorporator, organizer, stockholder, member of the board of directors, officer, consultant, counsel, broker, agent, trustee, nominee, or personnel who is an employee or official of PPA, including those separated from PPA within one year from separation.

An applicant also must not have any outstanding account with PPA, and must not have any owner, incorporator, organizer, stockholder, member of the board of directors, officer, trustee, consultant, counsel, broker, agent, trustee, nominee, or personnel with a pending case filed by or against PPA.

Previously under AO 10-2018, applicants must have been engaged in the port service for no less than two years immediately prior to the application date. This is no longer a requirement under AO 06-2019.

AO 06-2019 lists 11 documentary requirements for applicants for port terminal, cargo-handling, passenger terminal, Ro-Ro services; eight documentary requirements for applicants for port ancillary services; and six for applications that have been accredited/licensed/granted franchise by other government agencies. Previously under AO 10-2018, no distinction was made and all applicants were required to submit the same 10 documents.

An accreditation certificate, which is given to those with approved applications, shall be valid for a period of three years from date of issuance. Renewal of applications shall be filed not later than 60 days before the accreditation certificate expires.

The port service provider shall submit an updated information/profile form annually not later than 60 days prior to the anniversary date of the accreditation.

Late submission of updated documentary requirements for accreditation shall be subject to penalty of 25% per annum or point sixty-nine percent per day of delay based on the accreditation fee under AO 01-2002.

Failure to submit updated documentary requirements after 60 calendar days from the anniversary date shall cause the automatic cancellation of the accreditation certificate and removal from registry of accredited port service providers.

The accreditation certificate may be revoked and cancelled when the application for accreditation is supported by misrepresentation or submission of fraudulent document.

Another ground for revocation or cancellation is violations against the provisions of Presidential Decree 857 (Revised Charter of PPA), as amended; against the requirements stipulated in AO 06-2019; and against any rules promulgated by PPA.

Other grounds include engaging in activities other than those specified in the accreditation certificate; using the accreditation certificate to engage in nefarious, illegal, immoral, and vicious activity; and non-payment of any amount due PPA.

Also effective starting August 7, the accreditation fee for port service providers under PPA Memorandum Circular No. 03-2019 is P10,000 for port terminal services, cargo-handling/Ro-Ro services, pilotage services, passenger terminal building services, shore reception facility/ESM, and towing/tugging/tug assistance. Accreditation fee for the rest of the other services is P3,000.

Previously under AO 10-2018, fees ranged from P1,000 to P10,000, depending on the services, plus value-added tax. – Roumina Pablo

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