By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong urged the national government to temporary waive storage, demurrage and detention fees for all containers that have arrived at the country’s ports while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is in effect.
Ong, representative of Ang Probinsyano Party-list said the Luzon lockdown has caused damage to various industries that depend on importation.
Ong said government should protect the import sector during these crucial times, nothing that much of the things being used to survive the COVID-19 crisis all came imports.
The solon warned that the continued imposition of storage, demurrage and detention charges on containers despite the ongoing ECQ “would only cause an increase on the cost of goods including the basic necessities.”
“Many containers that are now in the country’s ports are unclaimed causing heavy financial losses to importers who are still being charged with storage, demmurage and detention fees by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA),” said Ong.
He noted that there are now hundreds of unclaimed containers at the various Philippine ports because many companies are not operational as well as truck drivers and trucks available for pull out
He added that most streets at the National Capital Region are closes because of checkpointsand the operations of Manila International Container Port (MIC) is currently suspended after an employee was declared COVID-19 positive.
Ong also stressed that as a ripple effect, the continued imposition of fines and additional charges to importers would make it very difficult for most businesses to pay and collect their containers when they are finally allowed to do so.
Since the government is pushing a rent freeze for those who are renting houses and business spaces, Ong said it should also “suspend the collection container fees during the duration of the ECQ.”
Most businesses according to Ong have been asked by the government to shoulder allowances, salaries or even advance the 13th month pay for their employees even if they are mostly out of business because of this COVID-19 crisis.
“It is just right that the government should also help them by waiving these fees… to help businesses to cope with all the extra expenses that they incur even while losing a lot of money because of the ongoing ECQ,” he added.