The House Committee on Transportation, in a meeting presided by Vice Chair Edgar Mary Sarmiento (1st District, Samar), approved on Wednesday the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to assess the status of Roll-On Roll-Off (RO-RO) Port System missionary routes.
Speaker Arroyo launched the RO-RO system during her presidency in 2003, which connected the three main islands of the Philippines, making travel faster and increasing trading among provinces. Speaker Arroyo wants the RO-RO system to be revitalized and expanded to further spur growth in the regions.
The TWG, to be chaired by Speaker Arroyo, shall oversee the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) as it acts on the committee's suggestion to sell to the private sector the RO-RO routes that are not being plied.
According to MARINA OIC Administrator Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr., the agency has identified 21 missionary RORO routes that may be sold to private operators. He assured the panel that MARINA will issue an advisory to the private sector to inform them of the availability of the routes.
The panel also continued its evaluation of the MARINA 10-Year Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP), which covers the period of 2019 to 2028. In particular, the committee compared the masterplan to what is currently operational and to the masterplan originally conceptualized by the Asian Development Bank during Speaker Arroyo's Presidency.
The committee further identified that only the route from Tubigon to Naga is the only remaining route in the ADB masterplan that has yet to be served and implemented.
"I think if you're talking about the original masterplan that wasn't carried out, there's really only one, only the Tubigon to Naga route. So maybe that's all you have to ask [funds] for. That makes it much easier for you. You don't need an EO (Executive Order) anymore, you only need the PPA (Philippine Ports Authority). Kasi really that's very affordable," Speaker Arroyo said.
"So I think if you're going to look for a missionary route, if you follow the original ADB masterplan, you're only looking now for Tubigon to Naga which I think will have many takers. It's not a very difficult route, so that's what you should give notice to today," she added.
The committee also approved the creation of another TWG to conduct a case study on the effects of shipping costs on the prices of produce from Bukidnon to Manila. The second TWG seeks to uncover the impact of transportation costs on the prices of goods, following assertions of the agency officials during the meeting that that there are minimal fees required through the RO-RO system. The TWG shall be chaired by Rep. Manuel Zubiri (3rd District, Bukidnon).
"This is for the whole country. This is very important. This will alleviate a lot of our problems in Mindanao because we are having a hard time, in terms of logistics," Zubiri said.