DOTr chief says PPA monitoring system shelved due to its unclear benefits
MANILA, Philippines — A show of hands at a Senate panel hearing on Wednesday proved that the Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) proposed automated system for tracking shipping containers is unpopular among industry stakeholders.
Representatives from stakeholder groups that filled the room were asked who favored the PPA’s plan for a Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS), but only the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines raised their hand in support.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the TOP-CRMS had been deferred indefinitely after an inter-agency meeting revealed staunch opposition from stakeholder groups and government agencies.
“In that meeting, we are not very clear on what the benefits will be. That’s why the [PPA] board decided to defer it,” he said at the Senate public services committee hearing.
Bautista noted that even European Union ambassadors advised the department against implementing the TOP-CRMS.
“That’s why we decided to defer it during the last meeting, although management of PPA is really pushing for it,” he added.
Bautista further said that government agencies like the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Economic and Development Authority do not favor the TOP-CRMS.
“That’s why they really would like to fully understand the project. Because PPA wants to have the implementing guidelines approved, but the members of the board said we have to make sure we like it first. That’s why we will again discuss among ourselves in the board if we have to implement it or not,” he said partly in Filipino.
Sen. Grace Poe, who presided over the hearing, asked Bautista for assurance that the TOP-CRMS will not be implemented until the proposal is thoroughly studied.
“Yes, that’s what we’ll do. That’s also the position of the other PPA board members,” Bautista said.
Despite the resistance, PPA had previously insisted that the TOP-CRMS is the solution to several port problems.
The TOP-CRMS, it noted, will allow customers, carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers to access the status of their cargoes and containers.
The proposed system will likewise help streamline port transactions, decrease commodity prices, curb smuggling, and improve revenue collections, it added.