DOTr takes measures to protect port users from high shipping cost
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has issued three department orders as part of the Inter-Agency Task Force's (IATF) directive to address the high cost of shipping.
The three department orders (DOs) aim to enforce measures to "protect people from pernicious practices affecting the supply, distribution, and movement of essential goods whether imported or locally produced or manufactured."
Department Order (DO) No. 2020-007 directs all domestic shipping lines to allot cargo space for agricultural and food products and give preferential rates to such cargoes. Under the DO, all domestic shipping lines must allocate "no less than twelve percent (12%) of a vessel's cargo capacity per voyage for the exclusive accommodation of agricultural and food products." The DO covers cargoes of agricultural and food products, raw or processed, that are marketed for human consumption-excluding water, salt, and additives as well as animal feeds-and "shipped in whatever manner or form" including roll-on/roll-off and conventional shipping. The DO also directs all domestic shipping lines to "extend a discount of no less than forty percent (40%) from their published shipping rates" for all such cargoes.
DO 2020-008 creates the Shippers' Protection Office (SPO) that will protect and assist shippers, both international and domestic, against unreasonable fees and charges imposed by international and domestic shipping lines. The DO applies to all complaints and issues related to the rates, charges, practices, and operations of international and domestic shipping lines in the country. Note that before the SPO was created, no government agency monitored and regulated the local fees and charges imposed by international shipping lines.
DO 2020-009 prescribes a minimum free time period of eight days from the date of discharge for cargoes unloaded by international shipping lines. This is up from the current five days of free storage time given by foreign carriers to shippers and importers and seeks to help port users avoid high demurrage costs. The DO applies to all international shipping lines unloading cargoes in any port throughout the Philippines.
All three orders were signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade and dated June 24, 2020, and took immediate effect. Copies of the DOs may be accessed here.