State-run Philippine Ports Authority said Thursday it issued a memorandum prohibiting the imposition or collection of additional port charges and fees, including hazard fee, in the delivery of port services.
PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago said in a notice to all port stakeholders the agency had not granted any increase and additional port fees, cargo handling, pilotage, terminal and miscellaneous charges, including hazard fee, in its official port tariff following the Luzon-wide enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine.
The PPA gave the notice to all shipping companies, terminal operators, cargo handling operators, pilots and pilots’ associations, private ports and port service providers, port managers and other port stakeholders.
It issued the notice after the Quezon Harbor Pilots Association Inc., which is based in Lucena City, released an open letter stating that it would collect P60,000 as additional pilots’ health hazard fee for every vessel that they would assist in Quezon ports.
The pilots’ association said in a letter dated March 23 that because they are considered as “frontliners” or front line personnel in the port’s operation, they are exposed to the threat of COVID-19.
The pilots’ association said the collection of additional pilots’ health hazard fee follows the recent announcement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that all frontline personnel should be entitled to receive hazard pay amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PPA clarified that neither its office nor its board granted the authority to impose additional charges or fees to any terminal operator, cargo handling operator, pilots and pilots’ associations, private port operators and port service providers including the Quezon Harbor Pilots Association.
Santiago said that while the agency values the service given by workers at the country’s various ports amid the threat of the deadly coronavirus, the hazard pay of pilots should not be shouldered by those who were affected by COVID-19 and by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
“We understand that lives are at stake when we continue to carry out our duties during these tough times. But they should remember that those from whom they are asking a hefty fee are also victims of this global crisis. I urge all our stakeholders to unite and continue serving our country even on the frontline. Our sacrifices are what our countrymen need now more than ever,” Santiago said.
PPA also directed all port managers to monitor the strict compliance of the issued notice and immediately stop the collection of unauthorized additional fees. All port stakeholders were also instructed to report any violation of the order.