New container monitoring system being finalized – PPA



The Manila Times

Maritime And Logistics

PHILIPPINE Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago belied a statement from the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations (Actoo) that the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) being pushed by the agency is set to be implemented on April 1, 2023. In a radio interview, Santiago clarified that the TOP-CRMS is still undergoing various legal and regulatory compliances as per the implementing operating guidelines by the PPA Board but hinted a new monitoring system will be implemented in the “first half of the year.” The clarification stemmed from an earlier statement of Actoo Vice President Rina Papa who once again stated the group’s opposition to the new monitoring system being pushed by PPA. She hit Administrative Order 4-2021 for the registration and monitoring of containers for duplication and additional burden to the industry stakeholders. Papa said, “Surely, they will say that this will be for the betterment of the whole industry. But we cannot see it because we do not need digitalization because systems in all ports are all digitized. All sectors have rolled out efforts, not only to monitor containers but also to their operations. Why is there a need to duplicate?” She stressed that the new system has new costs. She asks, “Why not enhance the present system that is lesser in funding?” “From what we heard, it already earned a go signal from Malacañang because what PBBM heard is that this is an anti-smuggling policy. How can this be an anti-smuggling policy when what you can only monitor are the containers?” she said, adding that their group was not even consulted, even if the TOPCRMS will be implemented on April 1. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council green-lighted TOPCRMS, as he wants the system which will be implemented pursuant to his administrative order implemented as soon as possible. Santiago clarified that the TOPCRMS is still undergoing various legal and regulatory compliances under the implementing and operating guidelines of the PPA Board. “I do not know where misinformation is coming from that the TOP-CRMS will be implemented on April 1. The PPA has not released any official notice that TOP-CRMS will be implemented this April as it is still undergoing regulatory and compliance processes,” Santiago said. Santiago also took exception to allegations that the group of Actoo was not advised. He informed that TOP-CRMS have gone through a battery of public consultations just like the one that happened recently during the Truckers Summit at the PPA office in Manila. Santiago said that aside from the public hearing, there is a separate focus group discussion wherein Actoo was also present. “They must also realize that the formula of the AO-4-2021 was already adjusted up to this date due to the concerns laid down during public consultations coming from end-users, including truckers,” Santiago explained. “It does not mean that if their concerns are not included in the updated version of the AO, we have not been listening to them. We are striking a balance for every suggestion being given to us by stakeholders. We cannot accommodate suggestions that are unreasonable and irrelevant to the system,” the PPA chief added. Earlier Santiago said the implementation of TOP-CRMS was also awaiting the result from the regulatory impact notification the PPA filed at the AntiRed Tape Authority (ARTA), a process that a government project should undergo before its implementation. “We have already filed the notices. ARTA and PPA will cooperate to expedite the process and thresh out whatever clarification needs to be done,” Santiago said. As of press time, PPA is still waiting for the result of the regulatory impact notification sent to ARTA. On the allegation that TOP-CRMS is a duplication of the system of the Bureau of Customs (BoC), Santiago pointed out. “The BoC fully supports this TOPCRMS, let me clarify that. They have a separate mandate to curb smuggling, impose the right tariffs on what’s inside those cargoes, among others. The PPA’s mandate is different, as we cannot interfere with the products inside incoming shipments. We are here to manage traffic and cargo inside the PPA run port.” Papa earlier said that TOP-CRMS would add another P6-billion burden to the whole trucker industry once implemented. Under TOP-CRMS, only container deposit insurance and monitoring fees worth P980 and P3,408 empty container handling service fees must be paid by importers compared to almost P10,000 to P30,000 container deposits in the existing system, and P180,000 for refrigerated containers. “I don’t know where these are all coming from. These container deposits are being imposed by shipping lines to importers, which irks the latter for so many years now. These costs will be lessened once TOP-CRMS will be implemented in our ports,” Santiago maintained. In reaction to the claim of Actoo that the new system will just be adding more paperwork to the whole process, Santiago said, “How come there will be added paperwork if things will be digitized, using buttons?”