Trucking groups call for scrapping of container monitoring policy

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  • A group of trucking organizations raised their opposition anew on the Philippine Ports Authority container registry and monitoring system for foreign boxes, saying it entails additional movements and cost
  • The group said the policy runs counter to the national government directive to reduce logistics costs and streamline processes

A group of trucking organizations called for the scrapping of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) container registry and monitoring system for foreign boxes, saying it entails additional cost.

In a joint position paper, the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners & Organizations, Alliance of Central Luzon Truckers, United Truckers Association of the Philippine, Unyon ng Truckers sa Pantalan, Asosasyon ng Operator at Driver sa Pantalan, and other stakeholders’ groups Alliance of Concerned Yard Operators and Alliance of Customs Brokers “vehemently express(ed) anew” their opposition to PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 04-2021.

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

The groups said AO 04-2021 runs counter to the national government directive to reduce logistics costs and streamline processes, adding another layer of transaction in the delivery of goods.

The enrollment and accreditation in TOP-CRMS, they noted, is an additional requirement to PPA’s accreditation and permit to operate, regulatory mechanisms “already being imposed on truckers with corresponding fees.”

The issuance of the monitoring device to truckers is in addition a responsibility passed on to truckers, they said.

Under the proposed implementing operational guidelines (IOG) of AO 04-2021, the monitoring device will be issued to PPA-accredited trucking companies after their enrollment with TOP-CRMS. The accredited trucking company will be responsible for ensuring that each device is functioning, fully-charged prior to any registered trip, or plugged into a power source while conveying the container.

The groups pointed out the proposed IOG “is silent on cost of maintenance, repair, or replacement of the device should the need arises.”

They said the system also “hinders the free market activity in the industry and hampers the fast and efficient flow of commodities from the ports to the public.”

With the requirement for another accreditation and enrollment, “transactions among private entities (already subject to various regulatory policies) in the industry are bound to be centrally controlled by an Agency that has no jurisdiction over such transactions.”

Moreover, the groups claimed the system “negates the autonomy of private entities—specifically truckers—to negotiate, manage, and hold control over their respective businesses.”

The “potential logistical inefficiencies created by the CRMS will vastly affect the economy, as it can drive away our export clients, who might decide to order goods from other countries with more efficient delivery services,” they said.

The “additional layers” the system entails violate Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, and other international standards of good governance, and “may potentially be a source of red tape.”

Moreover, the delivery of transport services “will be at the mercy of a system run by a single private service provider that is bound to cause inefficiencies.”

The proposed IOG also states that all empty containers for re-export are required to be endorsed to a PPA-designated staging facility at least 72 hours prior to departure, a requirement frowned upon by the groups as it once more violates RA 11032. The policy would curtail the practice of mutually identifying container yards most appropriate for transactions between concerned stakeholders, they said.

The direct cost in the use of the staging facility will be passed to the “exporting party”, who will be “blind and deaf to the cost it entails on the additional movement for truckers in completing a delivery cycle.”

The groups noted such issues were already raised during the January 4 public consultation, where other stakeholders also aired their opposition to AO 04-2021 and TOP-CRMS.

These questions include whether monitoring of containers outside the ports is still under the jurisdiction of PPA, and if TOP-CRMS is duplicating processes and systems already in place, such as the Bureau of Customs’ Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo (E-TRACC) System.

PPA earlier said TOP-CRMS monitors containers while BOC’s E-TRACC System monitors the cargoes.

The groups questioned the need for a system “that adds no value to [either] efficiency [or] cost-effectiveness” to operations, and asked whether implementation of AO 04-2021 is tantamount to the creation of a national centralized dispatch and control for port-based truckers, “hence negating the principles of a free market?”

Further, they questioned why container yards should be accredited by PPA when they are considered facilities under the jurisdiction of BOC.

The requirement for container insurance in lieu of container deposits when containers are owned by shipping lines was likewise challenged. “Why should the shipping lines be compelled to abide by a third-party system that imposes an additional cost of insurance acquisition for assets that they own?”

Other stakeholders earlier noted the container insurance under AO 04-2021 is an outright cost while a container deposit gets to be returned, albeit over a longer period.

The groups said these concerns bear adverse implications on operations of the trucking sector, which they noted is the “life of the shipping, logistics, and transport industry at large, and the national economy in general.”

PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago in a press briefing on January 18 said they hope to implement TOP-CRMS within the year, if not within the first half. – Roumina Pablo

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