Truckers decry phaseout scheme, port congestion in 'Truckers Holiday' protest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 19) — Various trucking groups stopped operations on Monday in protest of the government order to phase out trucks 15 years and older, and the congestion of empty containers in ports.

Truckers, customs brokers and porters have gathered at the Port Area in Manila bringing private vehicles and parking them on the highway in a so-called "Truckers Holiday" protest.

Teddy Gervacio, Inland Haulers and Truckers Association president, said some truckers have also brought 15-year-old trucks to the caravan to display their vehicles' capability to operate.

"We just want to show the government that these 15-year-old trucks are roadworthy and do not pose any danger at all if operated properly," he told CNN Philippines' New Day.

Gervacio said they are protesting against Department of Transportation (DOTr) order 2017-009, which states that the certificates of public convenience of trucks and buses, which are older than 15 years old, can no longer be renewed.

Some truckers said they do not have funds to purchase new models to comply with the order.

Gervacio said "roadworthiness" should be the basis for phasing out trucks instead of the year they were manufactured.

"We would like the government to review with the truckers and proper consultation with regards to the issue on the road safety, the modernization and to reconsider that it should be roadworthiness and not year model (to) be the basis for taking out trucks (off) the road," he said.

Gervacio said they hope to get the attention of concerned government agencies by the end of the first day. They initially planned for the truckers holiday to last until Saturday.

"We're hoping that within the day we can have an audience with the concerned government agencies," he said Monday.

Truckers also decried congestion in ports due to piles of unreturned empty container vans. Empty container vans brought by international shipping lines should be returned to their respective container yards to declog ports.

However, due to the lines' insufficient container yards, the vans are either left at the ports or truckers would have to drive down to provinces to transfer the empty containers.

"It's all because of the problem with the international shipping line, wherein they don't have enough sufficient container yards for their empties," Gervacio said.

This causes delays in delivering goods, added expenses due to storage and detention fees and lost time for daily operations, Gervacio explained.

"With regards to the empty containers we are now experiencing three days on the road going to the container yards just to return the empty ones," he said.

The groups earlier said they wanted the Bureau of Customs to "properly" implement a 2015 administrative order, which mandates that empty containers that arrive in the Philippines should be re-exported within 90 days from date of last discharge or else their owners would have to pay import taxes.

The DOTr said last week, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Santiago and DOTr officer-in-charge Undersecretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez have met with truckers on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Triciah Terada contributed to this report.