MANILA – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) aims to open a one-stop shop at Matnog Port in Sorsogon to address the alleged corruption in the seaport.
In a statement Tuesday, ARTA said it received numerous reports of congestions at the port that lead to extortions.
“According to reports provided by truck owners, fees as high as PHP8,000 are being asked from hauling trucks for a slot in the ‘priority list’ to ensure that they will get on board the vessels quickly,” it said.
The agency added that according to truckers, the actual fee is only around PHP3,000 and the excess allegedly goes to fixers and corrupt officials.
The ARTA said that based on reports from logistics firms, the local government unit (LGU) intervened in the port operation and even created a task force.
“It appears that the said task force has usurped the authority of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in handling the operations and management of Matnog Port,” it said.
ARTA deputy director general Carlos Quita said LGUs have no jurisdiction over port operations and cargo trucks should not be prevented from boarding vessels provided they have the necessary business permits, licenses, and relevant documents.
Quita said LGUs should adhere to the newly signed Joint Memorandum Circular 2021-01 that prohibits the unauthorized collection of fees and taxes on transport of goods.
To address these concerns, ARTA aims to establish a one-stop shop at Matnog Port by next month to streamline processes and cut the red tape in the said port.
“More meetings will be conducted to identify which government agencies will be involved in the one-stop shop, but the initial list includes the Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, and barge operators,” it added.(PNA)