President Benigno Aquino III sought for more cooperation from the business sector in dealing with the cargo congestion problem in Manila ports.
In his speech during the 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo on Friday, October 24, the President said that while port congestion has started to ease, cargo movement should be sustained to address the issue completely.
Aquino said transporting cargoes from the Port of Manila to Subic and Batangas ports was just a short-term solution.
He encouraged cargo owners to continue operations through the weekend as he gave them assurance that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and port operators will be available to facilitate the movement of cargo.
Citing data from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Aquino said there were very few individuals and organizations moving their cargoes during weekends.
“Only an average of 1,100 containers are moved on Sundays, which represent less than a third of the average number of containers moved on other days of the week,” he said.
“Government can only do so much: our main purpose is to be an enabler. That being the case, solutions require the enabled, in this case the private sector, to reciprocate through active participation,” he appealed to cargo owners.
He asked cargo owners to utilize Subic and Batangas ports, noting that port charges in the two ports were lowered as incentives to importers.
The President also said there were already improvements at the Port of Batangas as shown by the 94-percent increase in its utilization this October compared to the previous utilization rate of only 20 to 25 percent.
He added that ship calls in Batangas have likewise increased from two to five ships per week.
To ensure the safe delivery of cargoes, Aquino said the Philippine National Police has intensified operations against hijackers and erring traffic enforcers.
Aquino said Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and other officials of concerned government agencies will continue to work with the private sector to solve the problem.