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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Bill allows free-of-charge transport of relief goods

By Maricel V. Cruz

LAS Piñas Rep. Camille Villar has filed a measure seeking the grant of free freight services for relief organizations involved in the transportation of emergency goods and donated articles to areas under a state of calamity.

In filing House Bill 9345, Villar said allowing freight forwarders, common and private carriers, and like companies to provide logistic services free of charge to relief organizations that transport relief goods and donations would be a humanitarian act.

“It is utterly challenging for impacted individuals to bounce back from calamities, and the most immediate support that they can get should not go unhampered by freight cost consequences,” Villar said.

According to her, it would be a “form of commitment and willingness to help on the part of freight companies and carriers to help the affected communities in times of calamities by foregoing freight costs.”

Villar said the bill, once enacted, would also “strengthen the spirit of bayanihan among Filipinos in that the immediate needs of people affected by such catastrophic events are promptly provided—both by the government and the private sector partners—in the most economical, reliable, speedy, and secured manner.”

The bill mandates the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to coordinate with various parties for the effort.

They include the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) and all freight companies, common carriers, private carriers, freight forwarders, and other companies that offer logistic services to give freight services at no cost to duly registered relief organizations recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

These organizations must be involved in the transportation of emergency relief goods and donated articles to areas that have been placed under a state of calamity by the President or the local government unit (LGU).

It likewise provides that shipping auxiliary costs such as arrastre services, pilotage, and other port charges that are regularly passed on to customers shall be free of charge.

The bill also provides that the NDRRMC will be tasked to handle security and traffic management assistance to the relief operations to facilitate the speedy movement of people, goods and equipment to the affected population and responding agencies.

The implementing agencies of the proposed measure would be the DOTr, through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

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