MANILA– Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” T. Albano III on Monday alerted the Bureau of Customs (BoC) over the worsening congestion in the Port of Manila which continues to cause billions of pesos in lost revenues to various businesses and industries.
Albano, member of the House Minority Bloc, said the monumental delay in the release of container vans and cargo at the Manila port has also aggravated the corruption and extortion at the Customs bureau.
He said reports reaching his office revealed that unscrupulous individuals were taking advantage of the delays in the release of cargo because of the congestion in Manila ports. This has spawned lucrative racketeering thru “facilitation” services in the processing of inbound and outbound cargo.
“Huge ‘facilitation services’ fees are being charged businessmen who are helpless and desperate in seeking the release of their shipments,” Albano noted.
“This results in higher costs for businesses relying on imported finished products for local distribution and manufacturers who need a steady supply of imported raw materials to keep their factories and production lines running,” he added.
Albano said the delays in the release of shipments caused by worsening congestion in the Manila ports also entail huge and exorbitant demurrage, storage fees and shipping charges, which wreak havoc on the financial viability of businesses especially importers and exporters.
The veteran solon also echoed complaints of importers and exporters who fear huge business losses because of the government, particularly, the BoC’s inefficiency to address the port congestion problem that is not of their making.
“The longer these cargo shipments are kept in the storage, the opportunities for graft and corruption become bigger and wider for unscrupulous ‘cargo release facilitators’ whose operations would not be possible without the connivance of some corrupt Customs officials,” Albano pointed out.
He said the inefficiency of the BoC to address the problem and all other reasons attributed to the port congestion are causing huge losses to businesses and industries all over the country.
“This is a very ironic, if not, scandalous situation because before importers and businesses get hold of their goods or shipments, they already incur millions and millions in losses in the due to higher demurrage, storage fees and shipping charges and other customs collections’ entailed for the processing of their cargoes or shipments,” he pointed out.
“We cannot allow this policy where businesses are made to suffer huge losses directly due to the congestion in the ports that delay the release of their cargo or shipments and — ultimately, bigger losses to manufacturing industries due to delays in their production and distribution lines,” Albano stressed.
According to Albano, he will call for a congressional probe into the matter especially the delays caused by the inefficiency and corruption at the BoC.
In particular, he said, BoC Commissioner John Sevilla will have to enlighten Congress about the BoC’s policy on shipments and cargo adversely affected by the port congestion.
The BoC’s lack of planning and foresight to accommodate the increase in the volume of imported finished products and raw materials for the manufacturing industries adversely affects the national economy as it slows down business activity in various industries.
“They are all suffering all because of the BoC’s failure to take decisive action to address the problem,” Albano emphasized.
He warned that if the blatant corruption and extortion continues to fester in the BoC because of its inefficiency in addressing the port congestion problems in the Port of Manila.