DOTr retracts PPA circular requiring cargo ships to secure special permit during Luzon lockdown

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 06:34 PM

MANILA - The Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued a circular to clarify that cargo owners are "virtually allowed" to "withdraw or deposit cargoes normally as if there is no enhanced community quarantine."

The circular "suspends" and "recalls" an earlier memorandum from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) "requiring cargo owners and logistics service providers to secure a Cargo Entry/Withdrawal Permit (CEWP) from PPA or Port Terminal Operators."

“The new guidelines will only require the presentation of any of the existing transport documents such as Bill of Lading, Waybills or any related documents to the concerned inspecting/validating officers and which shall serve as their entry/exit documents,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said in a statement.

“This will guarantee the unhampered movement of cargo in and out of the ports of Manila, thus, ensuring uninterrupted domestic supply chain despite the 30-day enhanced community quarantine,” he said.

"Trucks carrying cargoes not needing to traverse any body of water are allowed continuous access to ports" while those requiring transit via any body of water "shall be required to unload the cargoes in the next port" and transfer the shipment to another vehicle, according to the PPA chief.

"The manpower requirement of these trucks are subject to strict health screening before they will be allowed to enter or exit the port," he said.

Random checks will be done to "ensure that there will be no contrabands being mixed along with regular cargoes," he said.

Applications to the Shipyards Regulation Service (SRS), Domestic Shipping Service (DSS) and Maritime Safety Service (MSS) should be filed to the "nearest available" Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) or processed through emails.

Under the enhanced community quarantine, government offices and essential private businesses are required to operate on a skeletal workforce or implement a work from home scheme.

"The agency is imposing a round-the-clock disinfection procedure in all its offices to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Santiago said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed Luzon under an enhanced community lockdown to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has infected 202 people in the Philippines.

Domestic air and sea travel to and from Luzon have been suspended, including public transportation on land after Health officials said the virus could be transmitted through tiny droplets from the mouth or nose of an infected person.

Sea travel outside Luzon and other areas under quarantine are allowed, provided that vessels will only be half-full to comply with the government's one-seat-apart policy in vehicles.

The Philippines is under a state of calamity as the government continues to find ways to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed 17 lives in the Philippines and nearly 8,000 worldwide.

Of the 202 COVID-19 cases the Philippines, 7 have recovered, while the rest remain in hospitals.