Speaker Arroyo urges for the revival of RoRo missionary routes

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to revise its plan to develop a Roll-On, Roll-Off (RoRo) transportation system, during the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation oversight committee meeting, which aimed to determine how the government can improve the country’s RoRo system.

Speaker Arroyo ascertained that most of the proposed routes were already operational under the DOTr’s Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP). For instance, she said that most of the 30 proposed routes are either an existing port facilities or being served by shipping lines in nearby ports.

Cited example was the proposed Jagna, Camiguin to Cagayan de Oro route by the DOTr which is already being serviced by a shipping line.

During the hearing, Arroyo recommended to DOTr to give missionary routes to shipping lines to address the problem of unserved ports due to lack of operators. A missionary route is an incentive given to a shipping line to service a new route exclusively for five (5) years.

The RoRo transport system was one of GMA Administration’s priority programs to ensure fast and economical movement of goods and people, and to boost domestic tourism and trade.

During the said administration in 2003, 49 RoRo routes from Luzon to Mindanao were established. However, most of the RoRo projects approved during that time were cancelled by the Aquino Administration.

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to revive the RoRo system citing it importance to trade and tourism. Today, there are a total 140 RoRo routes all over the country cutting travel time, promoting tourism and increasing trade.

PH infrastructure development programs unveiled for competitiveness

DPWH Undersecretary Catalina Cabral presented in the recently concluded Arangkada Philippine Forum 2018 the convergence programs with other government agencies like DOT, DTI- BOI and DA that will further fuel high growth of domestic investments as well as the surge in foreign direct investments of the country.

Undersecretary Cabral highlighted the masterplan of the Metro Manila Logistics Improvement Program that will enhance the road connectivity around Metro Manila. In addition to the 26 existing bridges crossing Pasig River, Marikina River, and Manggahan Floodway, 12 new bridges will be constructed to provide alternative linkages between major thoroughfares and increase the number of usable roadways that will decongest traffic in Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) and other major roads in Metro Manila.

On seaports and shipping, high cost of international and domestic shipping translates to high cost of consumer goods. Hence, Ms. Doris Magsaysay-Ho, president and chief executive officer of Magsaysay Group of Companies, recommends the creation of manufacturing and industry clusters in each region to create trade volumes, lower shipping costs, and make the country competitive. These clusters, she noted, should be developed close to port and airport infrastructures and be designed to make handling products more efficient.

On air, Senator Grace Poe pointed out the P350B NAIA Consortium project that will rehabilitate, expand, operate, and maintain the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for 35 years. Also, she mentioned the unsolicited proposal of Bulacan Airport that is one of the two gateways being prioritized by the government to decongest NAIA’s three terminals, which have been operating over their capacity.

On telecommunications, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is hoping to fix the dysfunctional dynamics of the infrastructure development by fostering liberalization and competition through reform legislation.

These measures include amendments to the 80-year-old Public Services Act to clarify the definition of public utilities as only those public services which are natural monopolies by nature. This is being sought by Senate Bill No. 1754. He also clarified that easing the country’s foreign investment restrictions is not meant to favor foreign firms over domestic players.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, Senator Gatchalian pointed out that the Philippines continues to lag behind its ASEAN neighbors in terms of capturing foreign investments due to the country’s relatively restrictive and less competitive economic policies.  (MJA)