Erap on truck ban: Nobody above the law

Space for trucks

The local government continued its consultation with the MMDA, the PPA, and several truck owners at the Aloha Hotel on Monday. The window period was still a problem, they said, because processing of shipment papers at the ports typically take hours to finish.

Trucks are usually only allowed to enter the ports to retrieve cargo past noon, two hours into the 5-hour window period. Moreno said the PPA has already agreed to allow trucks to park along the roads inside the ports, so trucks could line up within port premises.

Truck groups want more space for their trucks, previously suggesting that public lots be turned into parking spaces for trucks during the ban.

During the meeting, officials also discussed the possibility of the Bureau of Customs extending or modifying its office hours to accommodate the city's daytime truck ban.

Customs Commissioner John Sevilla told reporters on Sunday, February 23, that the bureau is not solely to blame for the long processing of shipments. "Gusto ko rin maging clear dito. Yes, nag-issue kami ng maraming alert orders, yes, naging dahilan yan partially ng port congestion. We are not going to apologize for making it hard for smugglers," he said.

(I want to make this clear. Yes, we issued a lot of alert orders and yes, this partially caused port congestion.)

He also denied that the bureau was the reason for the bottleneck in the processing of cargo papers. If shipments are cleared by 5 pm, they can leave the yard by 1 am, he said.

"Ang sinabi ko sa mga collectors namin: let us monitor the situation to see, makakatulong ba kung mag-extend tayo ng operating hours natin. Kung halimbawa, magsara tayo ng 7 or 8 pm," he said. (I'm telling our collectors, let us monitor the situation to see if extending operating hours will help. For example, we can close by 7 or 8 pm.)

Sevilla said the city's truck ban made changes in the bureau more "urgent."

But the changes, he said, will also mean more positions and overtime pay for existing employees. The target is to implement changes by July this year, as soon as they determine the additional budget they will need. –