The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is ready to roll out the Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo (E-TRACC) System, as the platform and sealing devices are set up and there are enough personnel to provide 24/7 service, according to a customs official.
“We are ready for the implementation of the program,” which has been tested and streamlined with no major delays, confirmed BOC Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco in an online discussion.
He said the software platform has been prepared and about 1,300 devices are ready for deployment by the program service provider.
Under the E-TRACC, “arming” at the ports of cargoes bound for Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) areas can be done in two to three minutes, Dy Buco said. He noted that at the Manila International Container Port or MICP, there are about 700 containers per day bound for PEZA while the Port of Manila (POM) has some 500 containers per day.
The BOC’s Port Inspection Division Personnel (PID) will provide 24/7 service relating to the approval to arm and disarm the containers. When the containers arrive at PEZA, disarming also only takes about two to three minutes, he continued.
“We have sufficient personnel to disarm all containers within the hour. So we are ready for implementation,” he stressed.
The E-TRACC System was established under Customs Memorandum Order No. 04-2020 to implement Customs Administrative Order No. 15-2019 (Rules and Regulations for Customs Transit in the Customs Territory).
The objective of the E-TRACC is to prevent smuggling by diversion, which leads to billions in losses in government revenue, said Dy Buco.
The program is currently being pilot implemented in Batangas, MICP and POM.
The customs executive said they are planning a phased implementation of E-TRACC across the country. “Sa PEZA, sa imports we estimate that we can have it fully implemented in the month of July.”
In Cavite and Laguna, Dy Buco said the briefing and training of personnel started a couple of days ago, and assured that “we have enough personnel to render 24/7 service to implement this program.”
This coming week, he added, trainings will also be conducted among customs personnel in Subic, Clark and Bataan on the implementation of the program at the free ports, and the rollout is likely to take place either July or August as well.
Moreover, the BOC plans to expand to Davao and Cebu either this month or in early August.
Asked about the cost to business, Dy Buco said the fee is P500 per container within a 10-kilometer radius from port of discharge and P700 per container beyond 10 kilometers.
Dy Buco said the fee is “less than 3% of overall trucking cost and less than 1% of the overall logistics cost of one container.”
In return, stakeholders or locators have “peace of mind as they can track their valuable cargo in real time.” He added that only the stakeholder has access to his own dashboard.
On whether the fees will discourage ease of doing business due to higher logistics cost, Dy Buco disagreed, noting that the program removes the need for physical underguarding and overtime fees because it promotes automation.
Meanwhile, PHILEXPORT president Dr. Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., in his opening remarks at the e-forum held July 2, underlined the importance of streamlining and computerization as one of the paths toward recovery and business continuity and productivity.
“As the global race to recovery intensifies, it is critical to remain focused on the road to increased competitiveness, benchmarking on international best practices,” he said.
Samuel Bautista, chief learning officer of the Academy of Developmental Logistics, Inc., at the same forum urged closer collaboration and consultation with the private sector for new customs policies or laws to gain the support of the affected business community.
The e-forum was presented by the Export Development Council, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, PHILEXPORT, Transportation Science Society of the Philippines, UPPAF Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development, and Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines.