PPA hits port black prop

It is indisputable that the status quo is problematic for us Filipinos. Look at the current costs of logistics in our country.

Philippine Ports Authority general manager Jay Daniel Santiago | Daily Tribune

Groups lobbying to halt dead in its tracks the Philippine Ports Authority digitalization project, including a brokers’ group, have resorted to spreading misinformation about added costs to traders.

The PPA head and an official of the private consortium implementing the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System or TOP-CRMS decried the underhanded tactics being employed in a demolition campaign.

TOP-CRMS consortium member Shiptek Solutions CEO and president Eugenio Ynion dismissed claims by Customs Brokers Federation of the Philippines president Julita Lopez against the TOP-CRMS, saying that the “maths” the opposition use “do not add up.”

PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago lambasted Lopez for belying his statement that importers could save as much as 95 percent in container deposits or an estimated P33 billion — the amount paid to foreign shipping lines in container deposits in 2022.

“On the contrary, we believe some sectors opposed to the program are deliberately spreading false information. We don’t understand how P980 replacing P30,000 in container deposit will result in a 50 percent increase in the cost of goods. Or that it will result in additional import costs of P35 billion a year,” Santiago said.

Simple mathematics

“That’s just unbelievable. Numbers are being bloated to scare the people and discredit the program. Anybody who knows basic mathematics would conclude that P980 is smaller than P30,000 under any circumstance. We are curious about where they are getting their numbers because ours are based on actual statistics and documentation,” Santiago said.

Santiago was reacting to the claim of a brokers’ group that the PPA deliberately hid the fact that container deposits are refundable once the container is returned to the depot.

“Under TOP-CRMS, this will not be the case anymore. The PPA will charge importers a service fee amounting to P980 per container on top of an undisclosed insurance coverage instead of a container deposit excluding value-added taxes,” the group opposing the program claimed.

Insurance provider

Santiago said the choice of the insurance provider will not be the decision of the PPA.

Lopez claimed “even the choice of insurance provider will be left to the PPA.”

“It will be the choice of the importer/broker from a list of accredited insurance companies, which will need to pass stringent requirements, including capitalization, before being accredited,” Santiago told Lopez.

Under TOP-CRMS, only container deposit insurance and monitoring fees of P980 and P3,408 in empty container handling service fees will be paid by the importers, compared to almost P30,000 in container deposits under the current system.

“The P980 is inclusive of the insurance,” Santiago maintained.

Santiago, commenting on the claim that the container deposits are refundable, said this does not happen.

“A lot of customs brokers and importers complain of the extreme delay in the return of these container deposits ranging from 6 months to more than a year and with deductions, and a lot of times not at all,” he said.

He added that based on the experiences of stakeholders, less than 10 percent of containers suffer damage before they are returned to the shipping lines.

“So, the question is, how come the general sentiment of stakeholders is that it takes so long to give those deposits back, if at all?” he added.

Pushing for status quo

According to Santiago, Lopez’s group want the status quo to remain in port operations, particularly on the logistics side, because it benefits them and not the public.

“It is undisputable that the status quo is problematic for us Filipinos. Look at the current costs of logistics in our country. It is paralyzing and is easily determinable where the bulk of these costs can be found. The status quo benefits those opposing the program to the detriment of the ordinary Filipino,” Santiago said.

He added some sector does not want the program to succeed because it will disrupt the status quo from which they have benefited for decades. “And yet, look at where we are,”Santiago added.

Baseless claims

Santiago said the PPA board has suspended indefinitely the implementation of the TOP-CRMS. Still, once greenlighted, it will be pilot-tested in the Manila ports at the South Harbor, and at the Manila International Container Terminal, and cover only foreign inbound containers.

The TOP-CRMS will later be implemented at other ports, but only in PPA ports as part of its mandate to ensure efficient terminal management.

He has added his voice to the employment of full digitalization to end the illegal practices at the ports.


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