Cargoes piling up in nation’s ports

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

EARLY in October, last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned that some of the acacia trees lining the south national highway could fall anytime and therefore pose a threat to the safety of motorists and commuters.

Because the advisory came at the height of the controversy over what to do with the century-old trees that would be affected by ongoing road widening, nobody took it seriously. Many thought that the DENR was trying to scare the public into consenting to the cutting down of the trees.

The other day, one of the trees gave way to disease and old age and fell on the highway in Balud, San Fernando, pinning a passing dump truck.


Fortunately, no one was killed in the accident which, however, caused heavy traffic stretching from the Balud, north to Naga and south to Carcar.

The tree missed an oncoming passenger bus by the proverbial skin of the teeth. The passengers should thank their lucky stars for the narrow escape, but how long can their – and our – luck hold?

I’m not sure of the one that fell was among the trees that the DENR recommended for cutting last year. The agency had counted a total of 119 trees that stood to be affected by the widening project. They recommended that 96 of the trees be earth-balled, 16 to remain untouched and seven to be cut.

I think it’s time that we seriously consider the suggestion to cut the diseased trees.

The other day’s accident was a grim reminder of the harm that these trees could cause should they fall. Those of us who claim we love trees should prove it not by watching them wither and die but by planting new ones. Our sentimentalism could be fatal.


The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the region must be doing right in its tax collection efforts because for the second straight quarter, this year, it has exceeded its revenue targets. What makes the feat even more outstanding is that most of the other regions in the country recorded a shortfall.

According to its consolidated cumulative collection report, Revenue Region 13, which covers the islands of Cebu and Bohol, has already collected a total of P10.87 billion from January 1 to June 30 this year. The amount surpassed the region’s collection goal for the period by 2.72 percent.

In the month of June alone, the five revenue districts in the region hit almost P1.71 billion versus their total budget of P1.5 billion. Top grosser is RD 81 (Cebu City North) followed by RD 80 (Mandaue City).

When I visited his office early this week, BIR Regional Director Hermini Palamini expressed confidence that they will hit their collection goal of P21 billion for 2014.

Asked about the secret to his success, he said he talks to the taxpayers and appeals to them to pay the correct taxes. “I don’t write letters unless extremely necessary.”

It’s different at the Bureau of Customs where friendly persuasion has of late been unheard of. Importers complain that they’re being treated like the “enemy” by customs officials especially in Manila.

A customs broker said he went to the capital to explain why his client’s cargoes should not be impounded but before he could even open his mouth, a deputy commissioner scolded him. “I never felt so insulted in my life,” he told me.

Cargoes are reportedly piling up in ports all over the country because the BOC insist in physically inspecting them. “There’s nothing wrong with an inspection,” my source said, “but they should expedite the process instead of letting the cargoes lie in the pier for months.”

The situation has become so bad, he said, that some importers are considering declaring an “import holiday” for a month. I hope it won’t come down to that.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 11, 2014.


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