LEGISLATORS have called on the government to waive storage, demurrage and detention fees for all containers that landed in the country while the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is in effect.

Representative Ronnie L. Ong of Ang Probinsyano Partylist and Rep. Eric G. Yap of ACT-CIS Partylist said in a statement Friday that the ECQ has also damaged many industries that depend heavily on imports.

“The government also has to protect the import sector during these crucial times. Much of the things that we are using to survive this crisis are all imports,” Mr. Ong said.

According to the legislators, the continued imposition of storage, demurrage and detention charges on containers during the ECQ will raise the cost of goods including basic necessities.

They said that many containers now stuck in the ports are unclaimed and racking up fees for importers who continue to be charged storage, demurrage and detention fees by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

They said hundreds of unclaimed containers are at the various Philippine ports because most companies are not operational; no truck drivers and truck available; most streets in the National Capital Region are closed because of checkpoints; and the Manila International Container Port operation are suspended because two of its employees have been classified as Persons Under Investigation (PUI) pending confirmation of the disease.

The legislators said the continued imposition of fines and charges will make it difficult for most businesses to pay for and collect their containers when they are finally allowed to do so.

Importers could then pass on the extra charges to their customers, who will pass it on to consumers.

“Ultimately, it is the ordinary consumer who will suffer most because of these additional charges. The government must temporarily suspend the imposition of these extra fees to stop the sudden surge on the cost of imported commodities,” Mr. Yap said.

“Most businesses have been asked by the government to shoulder allowances, salaries or even advance the 13th month pay for their employees even if they are mostly out of business because of this COVID-19 crisis. It is just right that the government should also help them by waiving these fees,” Mr. Ong said. — Genshen L. Espedido