Department of Transportation (DOTr), through the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), will waive the collection of some port fees for shipping companies/operators, and provide returning seafarers with free coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing.
The agency said the initiatives will be implemented starting December 1 following the provisions under RA 11494, also known as the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (Bayanihan 2).
To reduce the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the shipping industry, the amount of P250 million will be utilized as financial assistance to subsidize the fees to be collected from domestic shipping owners, specifically, dockage (domestic) and lay-up fee (domestic).
For shipping companies/operators to avail of the financial assistance, they must be a holder of a valid Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), Provisional Authority (PA), or Special Permit (SP) issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
Additionally, shipping companies/operators must be a holder of a valid accreditation certificate issued by PPA.
Shipping companies/operators who have pending applications for accreditation are also eligible, unless otherwise said application has been denied by PPA.
The financial assistance shall also be on a ‘first come, first served’ and per vessel, per transaction bases.
Meanwhile, the other financial assistance amounting to P270 million allocated for the Maritime Sector will be utilized to fund the COVID-19 testing of returning Filipino seafarers.
Only inbound or returning Filipino seafarers who have disembarked through Philippine ports and airports are entitled to avail of the free COVID-19 testing, as covered by the Bayanihan 2 fund. This will be conducted by a service provider to be sourced by the PPA.
DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the financial assistance, in the form of the waived fees and free COVID-19 testing, will be of great help to maritime workers who were greatly affected by the economic downturn.
For his part, PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago affirmed that the financial assistance will be implemented immediately.
“We are grateful for the support coming from our beloved President Rodrigo Duterte for the allocation of funds to the critically-impacted Maritime sector. Ever since the COVID-19 broke out, our maritime workers have been vital to keep the economy thriving. They are also considered as frontline workers during these challenging times and so we will implement this as soon as possible,” Santiago said.