Senate probes truckers’ woes

December 02, 2018
Grace Poe

A RESOLUTION seeking to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, on the government’s policy banning 15-year old trucks from operating as truck for hire was filed by Senator Grace Poe.

Resolution 955 shall  also look into the apparent lack in regulation, transparency and accountability concerning returns of empty import containers to shipping lines.

These issues were raised by the Alliance of Philippine Customs Brokers and Truckers which is composed of Haulers and Truckers Association in the Watersouth (HATAW), Inland Haulers and Truckers Association Corp. (INHTA), Aduana Business Club, Inc. (ABCI) and Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PCBAPI).

The Association of Subic Truck Importers Group (ASTIG) and truckers from Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite and La Union are among other truckers as well as customs brokers associations opposed to the 15-year old truck phase out and other policies and practices affecting the trucking industry.

Other problems to be investigated are: Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS), weighing procedures on trucks and cargoes, illegal towing of trucks, and “passing thru” fees imposed by LGUs.

It can be recalled that trucker and customs broker associations recently held a ‘six-day port trucking holiday’ to protest the 15-year-old truck ban and the lack of empty container return spaces.

As a result of the ‘port trucking holiday’,  deliveries were crippled owing to the ‘restdays’ participated in by numerous port truckers and about 90 percent of the brokers’ work force.

HATAW president Edgardo V. Olego and INHTA president Teddy Gervacio  said their troubles are seemingly ignored, thus they were forced to take action despite the consequent loss in their earnings.

ABCI president Mary Zapata recalled, they have long put their problems forward to authorities to no avail. She further warned that such action could be repeated by truckers and customs brokers associations if the government will remain blind and numb to their disclosures and proposals.

Atty. Ferdinand Mañebo, legal counsel of HATAW, noted that the port trucking holiday was conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner, without impeding entry and exit out of the ports and the smooth flow of traffic on Road 10 in the port area. He added that there is therefore absolutely no basis to accuse the group of ‘economic sabotage’.

The matter emanated some three years ago when the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued Resolution 006-2015 revoking Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of delivery trucks manufactured 15-years back.

Government upheld road safety and environmental preservation as main considerations for the policy.

Truckers, however contest that said arguments are not totally reliant on trucks’ year model alone. The 15.5 million truck units in the United States of America for instance, are well maintained and certified road worthy, yet ages more than 15 years.

The said haulers and brokers also heed the government to resolve problems around returning of empty containers to shipping lines that at present is costly and bothersome for their sector. International shipping lines do not have sufficient space for empty containers. Shipping line’s container yards are now full forcing truckers to wait more than a week to return empties. To make matters worse, shipping lines impose detention charges when containers are not returned within 72 hours upon pullout from the port despite the fact that it is the fault of the shipping lines that containers cannot be returned.

The TABS adopted during PNoy administration failed to ease up, instead compounded the woes in the industry.

Should government attend to these matters and due agencies act to resolve these, reforms in the trucking industry shall reflect well on the progress of our market economy, the truckers concluded.