A RANKING official of the Port of Manila (POM) thumbed down the alle-gation that they “diverted” part of the monthly collection for August from the Port of Batangas in order for them to meet their own collection target for the month and avoid the relief of district collector, Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria.
In an official statement, POM Deputy Collector for Assessment, Florante Ricarte, averred that as early as August 30, the Port of Manila was already poised to meet its target considering the strong performance of its subports, Harbor Center, Masinloc, Peza Laguna and Cavite.
“(Official) data from the Financial Service of the bureau under the Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group (RCMG) shows that the Port of Manila collected P7.88 billion for the month as against our target of P7.43 billion, thus giving our port more than P15 million,” Ricarte said.
Ricarte issued the clarification amidst accusation from some quarters that the POM “diverted” the more than P448 million revenue paid by the Shell Philippines, which has its own refinery in Batangas province. The purported revenue diversion thus ensure that the port would not suffer a collection deficit.
Under the existing policy of Comm. Isidro Lapena, a district collector, as well as the deputy collector for assessment and for operation, are ‘penalized’ by removal should their collection district fail to meet its monthly collection target.
Ricarte also maintained that the oil shipment of Shell went through the standard clearance process in accordance with Sections 400 and 408 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), which allow the lodgement of goods declaration at any designated customs area.
“The Notice of Arrival and Inward Foreign Manifest of the shipment clearly indicates that the intended port of arrival is the Port of Manila,” Ricarte also pointed out.
“Moreover, in accordance with Section 409 of the CMTA, advance lodgement is allowed by the BOC prior to the actual arrival of the goods. Thus, there is no truth to allegation that the shipment of Shell Philippines was processed ahead of time in order to meet the collection target notwithstanding that the shipment was due to arrive only in September,” he added.
Ricarte also pointed out that since Austria, also the bureau’s spokeserperson, was assigned by Lapena to head the POM, it has consistently reached its collection target.
“At present, the Port of Manila has a surplus of P946 million and is set on hitting its annual target,” Ricarte added further.
“Notably the Port of Manila has never reached its target for more than 4 consecutive months since the implementation of the E2M in 2009 except during the time of Collector Austria.
“At the Port of Davao, he too showed exemplary performance by exceeding his 2017 target by P2.8 billion and left the POD with a P1.8B surplus in the first quarter of this year,” Ricarte also said.
Last year, Ricarte also bared that Austria even gave a lecture to all customs district collectors and service directors on “best practices” during the bureau’s year-end conference despite being in the BOC for less than a year.
“Given Collector Austria’s uncompromising brand of leadership and his advocacy for transparency and accountability, it is highly unlikely that he will allow or permit any action that is contrary to customs laws and regulations,” Ricarte said.