PPA disallows hazard fees, added charges on port services
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) on Thursday issued a memorandum prohibiting additional port charges, including hazard fees, in the provision and delivery of port services.
The memorandum was issued after the agency received reports of a Lucena-based association charging P60,000 in “health hazard fees” for every vessel it assisted in Quezon ports.
The agency’s General Manager Jay Santiago said in the memorandum that the PPA “has not granted any increase and additional port fees, cargo handling, pilotage, terminal and miscellaneous fees” in its official tariff after President Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The memorandum, in effect, rejected the contention of an open letter by Quezon Harbor Pilots Association Inc. that, since their pilots were considered “front-liners” at risk of contracting COVID-19, it would begin charging a “health hazard fee” of P60,000 per vessel.
The group argued that the hazard fee was in line with Mr. Duterte’s directive to provide hazard pay for all front-line personnel amid the island-wide lockdown, which forced the closure of several businesses and displaced several workers in the island.
The PPA said the association was invoking the enhanced community quarantine “as an excuse to charge an additional pilot health hazard per trip.”
While the PPA “valued the service given by workers at the country’s various ports amid the threat of the deadly coronavirus,” Santiago said, “the hazard pay of pilots should not be shouldered by those who are also being affected by COVID-19 and by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.”
“We understand that lives are at stake when we continue to carry out our duties during these tough times. But they should remember that those from whom they are asking a hefty fee are also victims of this global crisis,” Santiago said.
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