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Saturday, June 24, 2017

How do you lose 600 containers?

Posted to Far East Maritime (by on July 14, 2011

It is good to know the Philippine port and Customs authorities have a good handle on the cargo entering the country.

This qualifies as an “Only in the Philippines” story: Out of a shipment of 900 containers that arrived in the port of Manila and were supposed to be trucked to the port of Batangas, only 305 actually made it to Batangas.

How do you lose almost 600 boxes that have not cleared Customs and are supposedly in bonded transit?

A report from a Philippine newspaper said an “alert” was triggered when the containers failed to show up at Batangas almost a month later.

This raises a serious issue, namely that the Customs department needs to urgently rename its alert system to something more suited to Philippine circumstances. Maybe it should be called the “Containers. What containers?” system.

The boxes all apparently left the port of Manila but 600 did not make the 120km trip south to Batangas. Or if they did it was not recorded and no duty was paid on the contents – plastic resins, textiles, foodstuff, personal effects and household products from China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez was left scratching his head, but he must smell plenty of rats. Stealing 600 containers is no small feat and there must have been many hands involved.

It is not clear if the boxes were TEUs or FEUs, but it would still take at least 300 laden truck trips to get the containers out of the port of Manila. That means there will be a lot of drivers floating around the port with knowledge of where the boxes were taken. Interrogate a random sample of drivers and surely a pattern will soon emerge.

There would be culprits in the container yard and the port gates as well as someone in the admin section and in Customs.

It does not appear to be a major mystery, just another example of the corruption that is rampant across Asia’s most unfortunate country.

Is it possible the containers were not stolen and have been mislaid in a quiet corner of Manila’s port? Unlikely. When things go missing in the Philippines there are few innocent explanations.

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