The Bureau of Customs (BOC), through the Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group (AOCG) and the Port of Manila (POM), continues to implement measures and work closely with its stakeholders in ensuring that effective trade facilitation programs and practices are in place.
The BOC-POM and the Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) together with the Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) continuously implement the Empty Loadout Shipping Agreement (ELSA). Under the ELSA, vessels docked at the Manila South Harbor will load empty containers already in the terminal yard regardless of which shipping line owned such containers. The ELSA initiative is one of the measures implemented at the Port to free up the terminal yards of empty containers for load-out and repositioning in other countries and to maintain a healthy yard utilization rate.
Commissioner Yogi Filemon L. Ruiz also directed all the ports to expedite the disposition of all forfeited and abandoned goods through the modes provided under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
In line with this directive, from January to August 2022, a total of 893 overstaying containers were disposed by the ports nationwide, resulting in revenue generation of P237, 379, 455.86 through public auction of 318 containers, condemnation of 519 containers, and donation of 56 containers to various government agencies. Of these figures, the POM disposed 262 containers, 87 of which were auctioned while 175 were condemned.
Moreover, the BOC also formed a Task Group to work closely with AISL and truckers on issues relative to the return of empty containers both at the terminal yards and at designated empty container yard depots.
A study is currently being undertaken on the proposal to automate the monitoring of movement of containers, particularly its return to the concerned shipping lines to further prevent congestion.
Under Customs Administrative Order 9-2019 implemented by Customs Memorandum Order 18-2022, empty container yard depots which is a type of Customs Facility and Warehouse (CFW) shall be required to undergo an accreditation process for more effective supervision and control by the Bureau.
In addition, to ensure that only legitimate importers and brokers transact with the BOC, the accreditation of importers and brokers whose shipments were issued Warrants of Seizure and Detention are automatically suspended. Suspended importers and brokers are allowed the temporary lifting of their accreditation and release of their shipments subject to strict monitoring by BOC as provided under pertinent customs laws.
Following due process, the BOC allows suspended importers and brokers to prove their non-culpability through a hearing in a proper forum, and if proven innocent, their accreditation will be restored.
Meanwhile, the shipping line charges and warehouse charges are beyond the jurisdiction of BOC as it is a private contract between the owner of the shipping lines or warehouse and the user. However, the BOC coordinated with the concerned shipping lines, AISL, and container yard depots to assist the stakeholders in their concerns.
Lastly, to ensure the integrity of the transfer of containers and prevent diversion, the Electronic Tracking of Container Cargo (E-TRACC) remains operational. The System enables the real-time monitoring of inland movements of containerized goods using an Information and Communications Technology-enabled system such as the GPS-enabled tracking device to secure its transport to the intended destination.
The BOC assures the public that the agency remains steadfast in its mandate of enhancing trade facilitation, anchored in its drive of providing quality service to its stakeholders and the public.