Drilon: After five years under Duterte, major port improvements still missing

Published October 25, 2021, 4:12 PM

by Mario Casayuran

It has been five years and the present administration is about to bow out and yet, there has not much major improvement of port facilities nationwide, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Monday October 25 said.

In today’s consultative meeting of the Senate sub –committee ‘K’ chaired by Senator Grace Poe on the proposed 2022 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Drilon also said government continues to fail to address the high cost of inter-island shipping where it is cheaper to transport cargo from Davao to Japan than on a Davao-Manila run.

Drilon stressed that port development and port facilities are major factors in economic development because a good port increases commerce and trade.

A port builds a city, he pointed out.

The minority leader observed that the DOTr poured out major investments in the ports of Manila and Cebu but not in other provinces, citing the planned privatization of Iloilo International Commercial Port facility four or five years ago, with International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) committing to invest P8 billion to improve the infrastructure facility.

Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade clarified that 450 seaports across the country had already been established or developed in the past five years.

Tugade also said the improvement of the Iloilo commercial port complex is ongoing and that the unsolicited proposal of the ICTSI is still with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

DOTr officials pointed that NEDA-Investments Coordination Committee that has sat on it, asking for the submission of more documents before making a decision.

‘’What can we expect?’’ Drillon asked Tugade. Drilon ‘’graduates’’ from the Senate in mid-2022 after a two successive six-year term in the Senate.

‘’Pasahan ng mga requirements (at NEDA-ICC),’’ Tugade said.

Nevertheless, Tugade promised Drilon that he would try his best to resolve the issue ‘’but there are certain bureaucracies we have to live up.’’

Drilon stressed that he has no personal interests in the port contracts but the improvement of Panay island.

Asked by Drilon on a timeline, Tugade replied: ‘’First quarter of 2022. Itutulak namin (we will push it through).’’

Poe assured Drilon that he would ask Karl Kendrick Chua, NEDA director-general, to clear things up.