The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working on a joint administrative order (JAO) intended to expedite the withdrawal of overstaying containers at the ports.
The trade department on Thursday said the policy is jointly crafted and issued by the DTI, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Finance and the Department of Agriculture.
It comes after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier ordered the PPA to clear the ports of overstaying containers and make way for incoming cargoes, particularly those crucial to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the JAO, overstaying cargoes remaining beyond 30 days from vessel discharge must be withdrawn within five days from the effectivity of the JAO.
“Otherwise, cargoes will be considered abandoned,” the DTI said.
The JAO will also prioritize the processing of arriving cargoes containing food, medicine, medical and basic necessities. Containers scheduled to arrive after the issuance of the JAO are also given 10 days to be withdrawn from vessel discharge, otherwise these will also be declared abandoned.
The PPA will impose penalties to ensure consignees and importers comply.
The DTI said refrigerated containers must be pulled out of the ports within seven days, except chilled cargoes which are given five days from the JAO issuance. Meanwhile, unclaimed reefers are given a three-day grace period, after which they will also be declared abandoned goods.
The JAO will remain in effect until the state of public health emergency is lifted, subject to changes that may be imposed by the Office of the President, according to the DTI.
The DTI said yard utilization at Manila ports composed of the Manila International Container Terminal and the Manila South Harbor are “almost at maximum capacity” due to the idle movement of cargoes following the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon which strained economic activity.