Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday urged the Senate to look into the recent administrative order issued by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), which could affect the livelihood of thousands of port workers and cargo handlers in the country.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 775, Hontiveros said the Upper Chamber should act on the allegations surrounding PPA-AO No. 12-2018 which is perceived as a threat to small stakeholders in the shipping industry.
The order primarily seeks to implement a so-called “Port Terminal Management Regulatory Framework” which mandates that contracts for operation and management of ports under the PPA’s jurisdiction must be awarded to parties offering the highest concession fees in a public bidding.
“We need to protect the livelihood of the thousands of port workers, cargo handers and other small businesses involved in the shipping industry,” Hontiveros said.
“They have a very important role in our economy especially during this pandemic. Let’s help ensure that they won’t lose their jobs due to this new order,” the lawmaker said.
She said senators should look into the AO to also ensure that economic disruption to the dockworkers is minimized and that the public bidding was fair and above-board.
Lawmakers should also ascertain whether there was a proper consultation among stakeholders before the AO is implemented.
“Because this new framework may unduly favor large corporations who have the capital to offer drastically higher concession fees than cooperatives and local small businesses,” she pointed out.
“The framework effectively threatens to displace thousands of workers from these existing concessionaires who are no match to big businesses,” she said.
Hontiveros said it is imperative that the government prevents a repeat of the experience of hundreds of cargo handlers and other port workers from the Calapan Labor Service Development Cooperative (CALSEDECO) in Oriental Mindoro.
The CALSEDECO workers figured in a stand off with port police and the employees of the new service provider who were trying to assume operations in the port after the PPA entered into a new contract with the private firm.
If the government fails to streamline and fix existing rules on awarding concession agreements soon, the senator said similar disputes may also start in other port areas around the country.
“The government should immediately take actionon this issue before it blows up. We are in the middle of a pandemic, we can’t compromise the jobs of thousands of port workers and their families and the country’s economy,” she said.