Bureau of Customs, ports authority consult on policy for abandoned cargo

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THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said they discussed jurisdiction issues over container yards and of facilitation of permits in the South Harbour and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

Department of Transportation (DoTr), the agency that oversees the PPA, said that BoC Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon and PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago met to consult on a draft Customs Administrative Order (CAO).

In a July 17 meeting they ironed out areas of responsibility in relation to the CAO, which deals with the establishment, maintenance, and operations of customs facilities and warehouses (CFWs), and agreed to allow the BoC to set aside areas within port terminals under the jurisdiction of the PPA, to temporarily store overstaying and abandoned cargoes.

The agencies agreed that the BoC has the mandate to regulate bonded container yards outside port terminals. However, container yards inside port terminals, whether operated by PPA or by private operators, should be regarded as components of the entire terminal, which then fall under the supervision of PPA, and are not to be treated separately.

“The PPA and BoC have discussed each others’ requirements and are working together to address the need of Customs for an area where they can secure seized and abandoned cargoes, among other concerns. The free flow of containers in and out of the port is essential to prevent port congestion. We don’t want a repeat of 2014. Therefore, it is necessary for all agencies to work together in crafting this CAO,” DoTr Assistant Secretary for Maritime Fernando Juan C. Perez said in the statement, referring to the port congestion problem which affected Metro Manila in 2014.

The PPA had questioned Section 307 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which the draft CAO aims to implement, saying that the section “neither repealed nor superseded the jurisdiction of port authorities over port operators, such as those who provide warehousing or storage services.”

Section 307 calls for the Customs Commissioner to establish a temporary storage area for imports prior to arriving at a declaration that the goods are overstaying and abandoned, subject to rules and regulations to be issued by the secretary of the Department of Finance (DoF).

The PPA has said that the proposed CAO should be limited to the guidelines for establishing, maintaining and operations of CFWs only, without reference to the provision of warehousing or storage services.

“After our discussion with the Bureau of Customs, we were able to sort out the differences in so far as interpretation of the CAO is concerned,” Mr. Santiago said in the statement.

The agencies also agreed that collection of fees and permits as well as licensing within port terminals will be under the supervision of the PPA while those outside port terminals will be under the BoC.

“As far as port terminals are concerned, that should still remain with the PPA but for container yards outside of the ports, that will be under the supervision of the BoC,” Mr. Santiago added.

The draft CAO is currently being presented to stakeholders for further amendments, and is pending approval of the DoF. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo