Philippines – Coronavirus Disease Update

All ports

The following guidelines will be implemented for cruise vessels:

  • Vessels with passengers who were in Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau, regardless of nationality, will not be allowed to dock.
  • Vessels who did not call Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau must undergo a health screening, submit a Maritime Declaration of Health and other pertinent documents related to COVID.
  • If allowed to dock, all travel excursions in the Philippines must be submitted. The master of the vessel must immediately report to a Quarantine Medical Officer any occurrence of flu like symptoms.

The following guidelines will be implemented for cargo vessels.

  • Vessels that called Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau 14 days prior will be boarded at anchorage. A yellow flag must be hoisted at the foremast upon arrival at anchorage then quarantine boarding formalities will begin.
  • This procedure will be repeated at any local port called after.
  • Ship agents of vessel with PUI at a non-competent port must arrange the immediate diversion of the vessel to either Manila or Cebu (whichever is nearer).

Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visas, directly coming or within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines has been to China, Hong Kong, Macau.

Effective February 14, 2020, Taiwan was removed from the Philippines’ temporary travel ban list.

Effective February 28, Filipinos and Permanent Resident Visa Holders from North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea including Daegu City and Cheongdo County are free to enter the Philippines provided they will be under strict fourteen (14) day home quarantine. All foreigners from South Korea will be screened by the Bureau of Immigration to determine that they are not from areas or have traveled from areas with travel restriction.

All disembarkation of foreign passengers and crew from cargo and cruise vessels are temporarily deferred until further notice. Only foreign on-signer crew will be allowed for crew change. Filipino crew who are joining/off-signing will still be allowed for crew changes.

Province of Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine, as announced on March 16.

  1. Outbound passengers intending to depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon shall be allowed to travel for a period of seventy-two (72) hours from effectivity of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
  2. Inbound international passengers, in transit upon effectivity, shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the IATF.
  3. All inbound Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine Government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the IATF.
  4. The movement of cargoes within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered. Guidelines for the accompanying crew or personnel of transiting cargoes shall be formulated by the Department of Transportation.
  5. Land, air and sea travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance, shall be allowed.

Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) – released an advisory in view of the declaration of the “Enhanced Community Quarantine” in Luzon. These guidelines are as below:

  • Passenger shipping operations in all ports in the whole Luzon shall be suspended during the period of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
  • Cargo transport via sea shall continue to facilitate the movement of basic goods and commodities.
  • Sea travel in areas outside of Luzon shall be subject to quarantine measures and/or travel restrictions issued by Local Government Unit (LGUs).
  • All applications pertaining to the Shipyards Regulation Service (SRS), Domestic Shipping Service (DSS), and Maritime Safety Service (MSS) shall be filed with the nearest available MARINA Regional Office (MRO) or processed through electronic mail.
  • All applications filed with the Overseas Shipping Service (OSS) shall be processed through electronic mail.
  • All applications for issuance and amendment of Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) or issuance of Special Permit (SP) or Provisional Authority (PA), petition for approval and confirmation of the sale and transfer of ships shall be filed by the applicants/petitioners with the MRO where the ship is homeported. However, for ships homeported in MARINA Central Office (MCO), applications may be filed with the nearest MRO where the shipping company/operator is having a branch office.

Effective March 24, suspension of the 7-day period to lodge goods declaration during the “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ). Lodgment and filing of goods declaration may be made within fifteen (15) days from the date of discharge of last package. The period to file goods declaration may be extended for another fifteen days on valid grounds upon request. The order shall cover shipments with date of discharge of last package starting March 10, 2020.

Effective March 28, Department of Labor and Employment accommodation assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers residing outside National Capital Region, to ensure smooth repatriation upon their arrival at different ports.

All NOA of maritime vessels shall be submitted by local shipping agencies to the SOS office thru email. NOA should be electronically sent withing twenty-four (24) hours for Manila ports and within forty-eight (48) hours for sub-ports, prior to vessel’s actual arrival.

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on operations of accommodation establishments during the enhanced community quarantine issued on 18 March 2020 states that no hotels, resorts, tourist inns, motels, and the like can operate, except those with the following. Only new bookings of these guests are allowed.

  1. Foreign guests with existing bookings under any accommodation establishment in the Philippines as of 17 March 2020.
  2. Long staying guests with existing bookings as of 17 March 2020; and
  3. Guests who are employees of neighboring basic establishments (e.g. supermarkets, hospitals, medical facilities, utility companies, BPOs, and the like).

Bureau of Immigration scales down Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) operations.

Basilan, Cotabato City

Effective March 22, the island province is under a “state of public health emergency” and not a lockdown.


Transport and Security: Public transport (land and sea) within the Batangas Province is still operational and shall serve passengers going to and from neighboring provinces for work, provided that:

  • For Sea, public transport: passengers are cleared from triage by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
  • For Sea, private transport: passengers are cleared from triage by Philippine Port Authority.
  • For Sea and Land public transport, passengers shall provide proper identification and work ID as pre-requisite for issuance of ticket.
  • Bureau of Immigration shall submit the list of incoming individuals from other countries daily to the Provincial Health Office.
  • Transport of basic and lifeline commodities such as, but not limited to food, medicines, medical supplies, gas, fuel and like shall be hampered.


Suspension of all domestic air travel to and from the city. It shall exempt the cargo flights, medical evacuations (air ambulance), weather mitigation flights, maintenance flights, government and military flights and for emergency landing (all crews and passengers will not disembark as much as possible; if disembarkation is needed – crews and passengers will be contained in an isolation room in the airport) and recovery flights for expatriates.

Iligan City

City is under the enhanced community quarantine. Vehicles carrying cargoes such as maritime and agricultural products, grocery, supplies, medicines and medical supplies, LPG, hardware materials, and those similarly situated, may be allowed to enter

Metro Manila

Effective March 15, 2020 (12 midnight) to April 14, 2020 domestic air, sea and land transport are suspended.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) will be allowed to travel to mainland China, except to Hubei Province, upon execution of a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved.

Travel restrictions will be imposed on those traveling from countries with localized Covid-19 transmissions, except for Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the government.

Land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from the NCR shall be restricted. All workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be provisionally allowed to travel to and from the NCR, subject to review by the IATF if public health considerations warrants.

  • All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR. Provided, that proof of confirmed international travel itinerary scheduled withing 12 hours from entry.
  • The movement of cargoes to and from the NCR, or in such other places which may be the subject of a community quarantine, shall be unhampered.
  • Inbound travelers from Iran and Italy are required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within 48 hours, signifying that the traveler has tested negative to COVID-19.


Foreign vessels are banned from docking at any port in the Province of Siquijor until further notice.

Surigao Del Norte

  • Travel ban to all incoming and outgoing domestic vessels.
  • All incoming foreign vessels (regardless of nationality and the country of origin) will be banned to enter the province.

Oriental Mindoro

  • An executive order no. 22 series of 2020, restricting the movement of people and goods in order to prevent the entry and spread of the COVID-19 in the province.
  • All persons, regardless of their origin and mode of travel, are prohibited from entering the province of Oriental Mindoro.
  • Delivery trucks, their drivers and helpers, shall only be allowed inside the port of Calapan City or Roxas while unloading the cargo.
  • Fuel haulers can travel to their point of destination provided that drivers and helpers shall remain inside their vehicles.

Ben Line Agencies’ global partner – WaterFront carves new territory with Houston move

18 July 2019 – Global port agency business, WaterFront Maritime Services (WaterFront) has today opened a local agency office in Houston, Texas. The company, which is one of the world’s largest port agency networks, says its Houston office has been established to help charterers, owners, and operators to manage their risk in this strategically important high-volume location.

WaterFront’s Houston office is managed by newly appointed Director for North America Lars Westerberg, a port agency industry veteran who was formerly Regional Director Americas for Seven Seas and Managing Director of Wallem Americas. Prior to these roles, Westerberg also served as Regional Managing Director of Inchcape Shipping Services in North and Central America.

The team in WaterFront’s Houston office will attend vessels directly from Corpus Christi to Lake Charles, including all terminals and all facilities. The Houston office will also serve as the regional hub for WaterFront in North, South and Central America including the Caribbean and is linked to WaterFront’s existing regional hubs in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur to provide 24-hour coverage to its global client base.

Terry Gidlow, Chief Executive Officer of WaterFront, commented:

“On a global basis we see how significant political developments, evolving trade policies and rapid shifts in the supply and demand of raw materials and bulk commodities are impacting traditional trade patterns. Meaning our clients are faced with a whole new range of opportunities and challenges in executing their day to day business. With the opening of our Houston office we are able to bolster the presence we have in other major oil & gas import/export and refining centres such as the Middle East and in Asia.”

The WaterFront global network currently handles more than 45,000 port calls per year through a network of 483 offices in 93 countries worldwide. Unlike other global agencies, Waterfront focuses on providing port and husbandry services for vessels transporting coal, grains, iron ore, minor bulks as well as crude oil, clean and dirty products, chemicals and gas. The company also handles the husbandry requirements of 3rd party and in-house ship managers.

WaterFront’s Director for North America, Lars Westerberg, commented:

“By focusing on specific commodities, we can work with customers operating in this region to add quantifiable value to their businesses. Our work is all about understanding our clients business and their  specific needs and then using our local knowledge and relationships to assist them to mitigate their risk, turn their vessels and cargoes around faster and save them money, while maintaining the highest levels of  safety and compliance.”

Terry Gidlow, chief executive officer of WaterFront, added:

“Lars and his team in Houston bring to the table decades of local experience and relationships in ports and terminals throughout Texas. The Regional Hub function of the Houston office also serves to give our clients in North and South America better access to our Global network.

WaterFront was established by leading regional ship agency businesses Sharaf Shipping Agencies and Ben Line Agencies in 2016. WaterFront is headquartered in Dubai with commercial offices in China, Singapore, Dubai, Norway and the USA. WaterFront has strategic partnerships in the rest of North and South America with renowned local partners such as ACGI on the west Coast of the US and Canada, UNIMAR in Brazil and the Ultramar group in Spanish-speaking South America. For more information about the organisation, visit

BLA Profile: Terence Uytingban

Date of joining Ben Line Agencies: 01 August 2017
Position: General Manager – Marine Agency and Offshore Services
Current location: Ben Line Agencies Philippines

Capt. Terence has sailed across the globe onboard various types of tankers for over 10 years starting from cadetship until he became captain. His shore-based career started in 2005 as a Manager responsible for the fleet personnel of Eitzen Maritime Services through a Filipino-Norwegian JV company called Aboitiz Jebsen. The company handled close to 400 ships and 10,000 seafarers where Capt. Terence subsequently got involved in various senior management positions covering the areas of Crew Management, Ship Management, HSQE, Training & Career Development, and Marketing.

Here we get to know Capt. Terence a little better.

  • How did you get into the shipping industry? I joined the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in 1992 fresh out of High School with a goal of becoming a Naval Officer. As a cadet, I was sponsored by Mobil Shipping Company Ltd where I did my apprenticeship on two of their VLCCs. Eventually, I got convinced that joining the merchant fleet was a better option, so I joined Shell after graduation and continued sailing thereafter.
  • Who were you with prior joining Ben Line Agencies?I was with Aboitiz Jebsen for 8 years. In 2014, I was invited by UltraShip – a Danish Shipmanagement company under the Ultra group of Chile who wanted to establish a hub in the Philippines. I ran this office as General Manager before joining Ben Line in 2017.
  • What qualities did you bring across to Ben Line Agencies from your previous employer(s)?I was moulded in a highly competitive, fast-paced, multi-culture environment where the default mindset is always move forward and up. I am a strategic thinker who believes in 5 I’s – Insight, Innovation, Influence, Intervention and Integration.
  • What does a typical day involve for you at Ben Line Agencies Philippines?It will always be different but will have either one or a few of below flavours:
    Insight – learn new things and impart knowledge to others (the team).
    Innovation – use technology and creative thinking in delivering better services to clients.
    Influence – bad habits are contagious, introduce new habits to the team.
    Intervention – be aware and act.
    Integration – make every member relevant and their contributions part of the whole.
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in your current role? Matching the existing resources against the business opportunities and time – so much things to do and so little time!
  • How would you describe your leadership style? I am generally a participative leader who would involve and empower my team. However, my professional experience which exposed me to various types of personalities and situations both at sea and ashore makes me shift to situational leadership whenever needed.
  • What has been your finest achievement in your time at Ben Line Agencies Philippines?I have only been part of BLAP for less than a year but have already seen sparks of excellence, passion and shared-vision among the members of the team. For me – it is an inspiration and a source of anticipation for bigger things to come.
  • During your spare time what do you do to unwind? 24 hours in a day is never enough in this kind of business but I endeavour to find quality time with my family to unwind whenever possible. I am also pursuing further studies so that eats up all other spare time available.
  • What is your favourite Filipino food? All-time favourite is adobo – but I also like kare-kare.
  • Finally, what is your message to the team in the Philippines? Vision – Mission – Values: we will define who we are and what we will become.

Ben Line Agencies Philippines Handles Voyager of the Seas in Manila

The Voyager of the Seas on its arrival at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila

Despite weather conditions, Voyager of the Seas, with an overall length of 311.12m and breadth extreme of 47.4m, successfully made its maiden voyage with Ben Line Agencies Philippines on July 20, 2018. Voyager of the Seas is the lead ship of the Voyager class and was the largest cruise ship in the world when it was built in 1999.

Tyler Parker, guest service manager for Voyager of the Seas, remarked that Ben Line Agencies Philippines was very efficient and professional in assisting the crew’s family and guests, most especially in handling clearance procedures. They are looking forward to more Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships to call other ports around the Philippines.

At the bridge, Capt. Sindre Borsheim (Voyager’s Master) and officers from Asian Terminals Inc. and Philippine Ports Authority and Ben Line Agencies Philippines Cruise Ops team during the Welcome and Plaque Exchange Ceremony.

Ben Line Agencies Philippine’s Handles 6th Largest Cruise Ship in the World

The 348 meters Ovation of the Seas in the fender-less Alava Pier of Subic. Ben Line Agencies Philippines arranged the Yokohama fenders.

The months of planning and coordination with various government agencies, port operators, vendors and different business units of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) paid off with the successful maiden calls in Subic and Manila of the Quantum Class cruise ship – MS Ovation of the Seas. This is the largest cruise ship to visit the country and seen to open the gateway for similar vessels to visit the Philippines.

The MS Ovation of the Seas is an 18-deck ship 348 meters long, has a gross tonnage of 168,666, a maximum occupancy of 4,905 passengers and is considered the sixth biggest cruise ship in the world today.

RCI acknowledged the hard work and contribution of Ben Line Agencies Philippines in making this important milestone happen. Realizing the vision did not come easy with additional challenges brought about by the closure of Boracay island, the delay in dredging of South Harbor (cruise berth) and all the birth pains of bringing the largest ever cruise ship to enter the Philippines.

We now set our eyes on the next cruise giant – the MS Voyager of the Seas scheduled to arrive in Manila on July 20 with even deeper draft (9.1 meters) than MS Ovation of The Seas.

747 Air Charter

Project shipment via air from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to General Santos/ Philippines, chartering a Malaysian Airlines 747 cargo aircraft.
Following which customs clearance at destination and overland transport to client’s powerplant site was undertaken. Cargo was made up of 21 packages of air preheater
parts, with a combined size of 51 tons/262 cbm

Client Profile:

A subsidiary of one of the largest power companies in the Philippines

Challenges Faced:

  • A 747 cargo aircraft requires a main deck unloader for unloading but the equipment of the proposed airport of destination (Davao) had been unserviceable for some time already and there was no repair schedule known.
  • The alternate airport (Gensan) had a working unloader but the reliability was uncertain due to the age of the equipment.
  • The said airport only had an aging 2 ton capacity forklift which could not lift the 14 pieces of cargoes that weighed over 2 tons.
  • Customs approval to release the cargo was uncertain since the entry will not be filed immediately due to the tax exemption being applied for by the client.

Project Solving Process:

  • Ben Line was able to source out an aircraft capable of loading all 21 packages in one lift in the form of Malaysian Airlines 747 cargo freighter.
  • General Santos Airport was found out to be the only suitable place to land and unload a 747 cargo aircraft.
  • Ben Line coordinated with the HQ of the ground cargo handler which resulted to the sending of 3 mechanics that serviced the unloader and then remained on site for the duration of the delivery to conduct repairs in case of equipment breakdown.
  • Also dispatched a 7.5ton capacity forklift that handled the handling and loading of the heavy packages.
  • Through close coordination and the good relationship of BLPL with customs authorities, the cargo was cleared within the same day of arrival.