Home » 3PL/4PL, Ports/Terminals » Did protesting truckers commit economic sabotage?

At the Nov 21 press conference, (L to R): Philippine Ports Authority general manager Atty Jay Daniel Santiago, Department of Transportation (DOTr) OIC-Undersecretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez, DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Richmund de Leon, and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra III.

Enforcement agencies are checking if the trucking groups that staged a trucking holiday from Nov 19 to 20 committed economic sabotage, according to the Philippine Department of Transportation (DOTr).

DOTr undersecretary for road transport and infrastructure Mark Richmund De Leon, in a press conference on November 21, said enforcement agencies mobilized to ensure the trucking holiday does not disrupt Manila port operations are compiling data and checking reports that some of the protesters allegedly obstructed the movement of other truckers that were not part of the rally.

The attempt at obstruction allegedly happened during the rally staged by trucking organizations Aduana Business Club, Inc. (ABCI), Haulers and Truckers Association in the Watersouth, Inc. (HATAW), and Inland Haulers and Truckers Association (INHTA), and Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PCBAPI) on November 19 and 20. The rally—part of the “Customs Brokers, Port Truckers Day of Rest” trucking holiday from November 19 to 24—was meant to force the Philippine government to address issues on empty container returns as well as intervene in the implementation of the 15-year-old age limit for trucks-for-hire.

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III during the November 21 press conference clarified that the government has been “veering away” from the policy of looking at vehicle age in favor of roadworthiness as the basis for granting franchise to public utility vehicles once LTFRB implements the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS).

On the issue of returning empty containers, DOTr officer-in-charge Undersecretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez said measures to address the problem will be disclosed by the last week of the month.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, in a statement issued on November 20, said concerted disruption by others of the operations of trucking companies that are uninvolved in the protest action is an act of economic sabotage.

“We will observe maximum tolerance, but, in no way should there be traffic disruption or congestion. Best interest of public and business must be prioritized and served,” Tugade said.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago, during the November 21 press conference, explained that ports are the country’s “gateway of commerce” and are “imbued with public interest.” This means that any person doing anything to halt or stop the free flow of commerce can be charged with economic sabotage.

He said that based on the country’s laws, economic sabotage is levied with criminal penalty depending on the magnitude of the damage, in addition to administrative sanctions and fines that can be imposed by concerned regulating agencies. For trucks-for-hire servicing the ports, this could mean fines and penalties and even revocation of the franchise granted by the LTFRB and Land Transportation Office (LTO), as well as revocation of the permit to operate given by PPA to trucks entering the ports.

Santiago also said that even if the trucking holiday has a minimal effect on port operations, the basis will still be the intent to disrupt trade.

Ang importante, ginawa (What matters is it was done),” Santiago said.

On claims that DOTr is not open to a dialogue, DOTr officials during the press conference asked which official the group reached out to who declined a discussion.

De Leon stressed that the government is open to a dialogue, something it did with big trucking organizations early this year.

One example pointed out was the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed on May 15, 2018 between LTFRB, LTO, financing institutions, and port and trucking organizations, including those involved in the trucking holiday.

The MOA established conditions between the parties involved on the registration for franchise of trucks that were acquired through leasing from the involved financial institutions. DOTr said the MOA established the expressed consent of trucking organizations to secure the requirements for roadworthiness and safety through the MVIS to make their trucks, including those units older than 15 years, legally operational during the transition period from June 30, 2017 to June 30, 2020, in compliance with DO 2017-09 and DO 2002-030.

Meanwhile, INHTA president Teodorico Gervacio, in a phoned-in question during the press conference, asked if DOTr was willing to revoke DO 2017-09 to “truly show sincerity” to move away from the 15-year old truck age policy.

Delgra, in response, said, “I hope we don’t set conditions for dialogue.”

Mas mabuti siguro pag-usapan [It might be better to hold a dialogue] rather than set pre-conditions [para] din siguro mas open ‘yung pananaw natin [so that we have a more open mindset]. Pupunta tayo sa [We go to the] meeting room where we will be able to discuss more freely issues that matter rather than kakasahin mo na na hindi pa tayo pumunta doon sa lugar kung saan tayo mag-uusap kung ano gusto mong mangyari [you have already set your mind on what you want to happen even before the discussion],” Delgra explained. – Text and photo by Roumina Pablo

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