By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Businessmen from northern Mindanao have urged the Duterte administration to rehabilitate, expand and upgrade local ports to international standards to take advantage of the liberalized foreign ships’ co-loading for domestic transshipment.
This is part of the 20 Resolutions passed during the 26th Mindanao Business Conference held in Davao City by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These Conference Resolutions will form part of the consolidated resolutions for the upcoming Philippine Business Conference.
Based on the resolution, the foreign ships co-loading act fosters healthy competition in the domestic shipping industry where the activities of foreign vessels in the country encourages local shipping operators to improve their equipment and operations in order to cope with their foreign counterparts and be more competitive.
But the law has not been fully implemented as foreign ships can only dock in international ports due to berthing depth requirements that the domestic ports do not meet,
To resolve this issue, the 26th Mindanao Business Conference has urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to rehabilitate, expand and modernize domestic ports across the country to adhere to international standards especially as far as the depth of berths and mooring facilities are concerned to allow for the full implementation of the Cabotage Law.
Like, the conference has also urged the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council and to certify as priority the bill amending the Public Services Act, which redefines public utility as a service that is necessary to the public and a natural monopoly that needs to be regulated.
Consistent with such definition, the bill removes transportation, telecommunications and broadcasting from the coverage of public utility, hence allowing these sectors to be open to 100 percent foreign capitalization, encouraging the entry of more investments and greater competition among service providers.
Another resolution has requested the PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and other government agencies to address the concerns of Cagayan de Oro Chamber’s manufacturing concerns.
The Cagayan de Oro Chamber stressed the need for the full industrialization of PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate, which is located in Misamis Oriental.
Likewise, businessmen have urged Congress to declare Mindanao Container Terminal as a principal port and freeport for cost efficiency.
Also proposed at the fast-tracking of the construction of the trans-Mindanao high speed railway system project for easy connectivity across the 6 regions of Mindanao.
The Department of Agriculture was also requested to address the concerns of the agribusiness sector of Mindanao for improved services and make them more competitive players in agriculture.