By Ben Rosario
The Department of Information and Communications (DICT) has asked the House of Representatives to craft a bill that would regulate the operations of freight and courier services for the purpose of protecting customers, most of them overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Former senator and now ICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan aired this appeal following an interview during the plenary debates for the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that was passed last week by the Lower House.
Honasan revealed that modern information and communications technology are being used by unscrupulous foreign couriers to victimize many Filipinos.
The proliferation of illegal and unlicensed foreign couriers has also started to put legitimate freight and courier service companies in an unfair situation of competing against unregulated and fly-by-night operators.
“The issue here, they are not only transporting goods but people, so we want regulatory intervention through legislation muna. Then after that sundan natin ng mas mabilis at effective ng executive action,” Honasan told House reporters during an interview.
Fly-by-night and bogus freight and courier service operators have raked in billions of pesos through smuggling, usually putting unwitting victims in trouble with the law.
Recently, illegal drug packages sent through courier services were intercepted by the police.
In 2017, a package delivered through a TNVS driver exploded when opened by the addressee in her Quiapo residence.
Earlier, Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza disclosed that the risk of OFWs of being tagged as smugglers has become higher due to the lack of measures to regulate the freight and courier service industry.
Atienza said customers who fall prey to illegal firms also face the risk of being accused of tax evasion.
Among the big courier service companies that lack complete government-issued licenses are a Singaporean logistics firm and a local firm that lacked DICT approval.
On the other hand, the Black Arrow Express, which is licensed to operate in Metro Manila, had reportedly extended its operations to Cebu and Leyte.
Honasan said the country’s needs a more permanent set of regulations that will be embodied in a new law.
“We need a new law para ma-institutionalize na. Gusto natin dito long-term na,” said Honasan.