Philippine Ports Authority meets customs brokers to address concerns about new system

Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2023 09:17 PM

Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Atty. Jay Santiago has met with officials and members of the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc or CCBI to clarify concerns regarding the Trusted Operator Program- Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) which aims to eliminate container deposits and manage empty containers.

According to Santiago, the TOP-CRMS uses technology for real time container tracking, allowing customers, carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers to monitor the status of their cargo and containers.

He added that with TOP CRMS, container deposits will be eliminated and reduced to a minimal P980 per container monitoring fee, inclusive of container deposit insurance.

He said container deposits that shipping lines charge against truckers, custom brokers, and forwarders have been a decade-old problem, with every cargo shipment usually costing P10,000 up to P30,000 for dry containers, and up to P180,000 for refrigerated containers.

Santiago added the new system can thwart cargo diversion, which is a common tool for smuggling schemes; and with real-time tracking, law enforcers can now eliminate fake consignees and prevent additional charges.

Despite these supposed benefits, some business groups are still opposing the implementation of the new system, with some claiming that digitalization will add layers of processes that could cause the delay of shipment.

Santiago however insisted that TOP-CRMS was made to benefit all truckers big and small although it will be initially implemented in NCR.

“Hindi pu-pwede na wala tayo iniisip na solusyon tapos ngawa tayo ng ngawa, reklamo tayo ng reklamo, wala naman tayo ginagawang solusyon. Pag nag-work to, maaari itong gamitin ng Cebu, maaring gamitin ng General Santos, gamitin namin sa Davao,” Atty Santiago said.

He added, “'Pag hindi matuloy ang magsu-suffer po dito hindi po PPA ang magsu-suffer po dito kayo at ang port community. OK lang sa akin yun basta sasabihin ko sa iyo pag di natuloy sa totoo lang 'wag na magreklamo yung mga magrereklamo sa totoo lang sasabihin ko lang, I told you so.”

Mary Zapata, president of the Confederation Of Truckers Association of the Philippines (CTAP), meanwhile, said she was hesitant when the new system was introduced but she has now changed her mind after some clarifications from the PPA. 

She called on skeptics to respect the opinion of those who agree with the system.

“Wag natin awayin ang mga aayaw... ang ating intention, pag paliwanagin natin kung yung grupo nila ayaw. Hwag naman nilang puntahan pa ang ating grupo para pilitin pang umayaw din. May leadership tayo eh, so kanya-kanya, kung yun opinion nila, I don’t mind,” Zapata said.

The CTAP will meet with all the trucking groups Wednesday at the NPC in Manila to discuss all their concerns regarding TOP-CRMS.