Press Release
September 3, 2018


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Monday said that he was planning on summoning officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to explain and account for the "slower movement and longer delays" in the release of merchandise arriving at the port of Manila, additionally noting that the port's inefficiency is causing the economy billions of pesos in lost revenue every day.

Pimentel, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, revealed that he has been receiving a growing number of complaints from importers, traders, truckers and brokers groups as well as OFW associations about the worsening port congestion at the Manila Port.

"Vessels now take around 4-5 days to berth at the pier. After berthing, it takes around 2-3 days to unload containers at the yard. So it takes 7-10 days to unload a container. The longer these containers stay unreleased, the higher the added storage charges are incurred, which are eventually passed on to us consumers. That's only one problem," the lawmaker noted.

Consumer and OFW groups in particular, Pimentel stressed, pointed out the "longer time it takes these days to release balikbayan boxes."

"I want to hear solutions from Customs officials and other stakeholders. Port congestion is a serious threat to the economy. We don't want a slowdown in commerce this coming Christmas season all because volume may have to be scaled down as a result of inefficiency in our ports, in Manila in particular."

Figures released by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) peg at P2.5 billion the amount of economic losses resulting from port congestion. Approximately the same amount is lost separately due to Manila's worsening traffic situation.

Pimentel explained that a more comprehensive solution to the port problem needs to be formulated to address the congestion mess.

"Some years ago, several banks at the Manila Port extended their operating hours to accommodate clearance payments for shipments. At this point, however, we need bigger, more long-term solutions. For example, we simply cannot rely on truck bans anymore. We need dedicated roads linking the port to our skyways and expressways."

Key infrastructure components should be made integral parts of the government's Build, Build, Build program, he emphasized.

The Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship Committee Chair likewise suggested eventually declogging the capital's operations and expanding alternative gateways in Subic and Batangas.

"This serious national economic matter may require Senate intervention in first, probing the problem further and second, in bringing about solutions through an inquiry called for such purpose. We need the BOC to urgently shed light on these issues," the legislator clarified.

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