MANILA — A Cabinet official said that the government is set to assign Subic and Batangas as extension ports in a bid to decongest the port problem in Manila in time for the holiday season.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will sign a memorandum of agreement with Subic and Batangas.
“So if you bill of landing specifies Manila, it could be dropped off in Subic,” said Abaya. He also mentioned that the port of Batangas will also have the same arrangement with Subic.
Shipping companies could call the two ports and offload either in Subic or Batangas and load shipments in Manila.
“Most of the cargo being offloaded in Manila are bound for Batangas or Southern Luzon. So I think we could make arrangements that these shipments could be offloaded in Batangas, in the same way, those who are northbound could be offloaded in Subic,” Abaya added.
The PPA only gave importers and brokers until today to move their customs-cleared cargoes in the congested ports of Manila.
The importers, exporters, and brokers currently have five-day grace period after Customs provided them with clearance. Failure to do so gives the government the right to seize the cargo after 15 days.
“We are giving them five days to ship out their goods effective Sept. 8. If they don’t we’ll ship them out to Subic. They are using the ports as their warehouse instead of investing in their own warehouse so we are removing them,” he said.
On October 1, Abaya mentioned that the government will increase storage fees to decongest Manila ports.
From P500, the fees for unclaimed cargo will increase by ten-fold for P5,000 for 20-foot containers; from P842 to P8,750 for 35-foot containers, P962.60 to P10,000 for 40-foot containers, and P1,082.90 to P11,250 for 45-foot containers.
The congestion was caused by the daytime truck ban imposed by the local government of Manila last February 24 to end of May. This move practically halted the movement of cargo.
Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian filed a resolution to conduct an inquiry to immediately use the ports of Subic and Batangas as a long-term solution to solve the problem of congestion in Manila.
Both Subic and Batangas have a combined capacity of 600,000 TEUs.
“Goods heading to Northern and Southern Luzon may instead be assigned to the Subic and Batangas ports, thereby easing the congestion in Manila ports. Those ports have a huge potential in contributing to the economy. They just have to be fully utilized,” he said.
Gatchalian is a majority member of the committee on trade and industry and a senior vice chairman for the House committee on Metro Manila.