State-run Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is waiving the collection of some port fees for shipping operators and providing returning seafarers with free coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing to help reduce the impact of the pandemic to the shipping industry.
This will be implemented starting December 1, 2020, following the provisions under Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).
PPA has allocated P250 million for financial assistance to subsidize the fees to be collected from domestic shipping owners, specifically the domestic dockage and lay-up fee.
To avail the financial assistance, the shipping company must be a holder of a valid certificate of public convenience, provisional authority or special permit issued by the Maritime Industry Authority, and must be a holder of a valid accreditation certificate issued by PPA.
Shipping companies/operators with pending applications for accreditation are also eligible, unless the application has been denied by PPA.
The financial assistance shall be on a ‘first come, first served’ and per vessel, per transaction bases.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) also allocated financial assistance amounting to P270 million for the maritime sector 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 PPA.
Arthur Tugade, DOTr secretary, 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.
Jay Daniel Santiago, PPA general manager, affirmed that the financial assistance will be implemented immediately.
“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.