Press Release
March 17, 2019


Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara is asking the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to help address the complaints of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) on the resurgence of congestion in the Port of Manila which is hurting businesses and the manufacturing sector.

In a letter to the Senate, the FFCCCII said complaints continue to mount among its members due to the congestion at the country's busiest port complex brought about by slow movement and long delays in the release of merchandise.

"I hope the Bureau of Customs will help solve the problem because it is hurting businesses. Port congestion causes delays and increases the cost of doing business which is ultimately passed on to consumers," said Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

According to Angara, the port congestion reverberates throughout the supply chain, becoming a significant trade barrier for both exports and imports with a corresponding negative impact on the economy.

"We should not take this problem sitting down, especially now that we are beginning to witness its macroeconomic effects. Unless we do something, the economy will suffer," Angara warned.

The FFCCCII said the "inordinately slow release of containers" from international vessels is delaying the delivery of raw materials and intermediate goods, thereby affecting the production and manufacturing of goods in the Philippines and hiking costs.

The federation also claimed of receiving reports of "questionable and arbitrary charges" imposed by international shipping lines on Philippine port users and stakeholders.

"Nakita na natin ang masamang epekto ng pagkakaroon ng port congestion at hindi malayong maranasan natin ulit ito kung hindi tayo kikilos para solusyunan ang problemang ito," Angara said, referring to the 2014 port congestion crisis that ensued resulting from the truck ban imposed by the Manila city government.

The 2014 crisis caused major delays in the delivery of raw materials and in the manufacturing of products, prompting the exodus of foreign firms to other Asian countries. It also gave rise to multiple fees charged by the major port users such as the truckers, shipping lines and the port authorities arising from sudden operational emergencies.

Port congestion was again reported in 2018 and the same has carried over to 2019, the FFCCCII.

The business group attributed these delays to various issues like the return of empty containers due to lack of container yards, which also led to a Truck Holiday in November 2018 by the Alliance of Philippine Brokers and Truckers Associations.

At present, it takes approximately five days for vessels to berth at the pier and another three days to unload, the business group said.

Adding to this, the FFCCCII said, is the delay in the release by the BOC of shipments as processing time for clearance of cargoes has increased, causing higher storage fees for importers. Importers are also unable to properly schedule deliveries or sales cycle because of the slow loading of containers due to long queues.

All this is "costing money which is ultimately passed on to consumers," it said.

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