12 APRIL 2023, MANILA — The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) explained the importance of globalization and the significance of lowering logistics costs within the country’s ports during the Senate Public Services Committee inquiry, headed by its chairperson Senator Grace Poe.

PPA GM Jay Santiago was able to answer queries about PPA’s digitalization plans, debunked the claim of having a duplicate system with another government agency and the need to lower logistics costs.

The senators asked about the controversial Trusted Operator Program- Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) that has undergone halting pressures from several business groups. The said program is a proposed solution of PPA to combat increased incremental cost of transacting in the country’s logistics chain. One of the objectives of the said program is to prescribe the policy in the registration and monitoring of containers entering and leaving PPA ports including the scheduling, loading, unloading, release and movement of all containers.

Under the Presidential Decree No. 857, PPA is mandated to monitor and manage the entry, exit, re-entry and re-export of containers at PPA-administered ports. “The mandate of the PPA is to ensure the free flowing traffic of containers, of cargo to our ports and we need to monitor, we need to know when the containers will actually be brought back or when they will be coming in to be able to manage the terminals efficiently because the terminals only have a limited space. They may be many number of hectares but always limited,” PPA GM Santiago said. 

It can be recalled that on March 2023, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) rated PPA’s TOP- CRMS as “Good Practice RIS”, having a 36/40 rating. ARTA has acknowledged the problem on container deposits and empty container returns in its evaluation.

Shiptek Solutions Corp Legal Counsel Atty. Remigio Ancheta III also emphasized during the senate inquiry that TOP-CRMS has gone through the proper evaluation and legal processes. “As we speak there is no legal obstacle in the implementation of this project. I would also like to highlight that PPA has within its mandate to regulate the entry, conveyance, movement and exit of this containers arriving from foreign ports that is I think the essence of the project,” Atty. Ancheta III greatly justified. 

In his closing remarks, GM Santiago reiterated that PPA’s focus is to better the welfare of the port users and will abide by the result of the senate inquiry. “We have to make sure that the ports are ran efficiently and this is where this particular program, this particular effort comes into play, kung halimbawa po hindi po ito matuloy wala pong problema, we just move forward, we concentrate on the other mandates po of the PPA,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Poe is hopeful that the maritime and transportation sectors will arrive at a win-win situation. “As long as we are willing to listen, we will be able to find a mutually beneficial solution,” Poe mentioned.