Robredo urges resumption of Iloilo-Guimaras boat trips
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday called for the resumption of the passenger pump boat trips between Iloilo and Guimaras following three accidents that happened in the Iloilo Strait, which separates the two provinces.
Robredo said that even the relatives of those who died in the Aug. 3 sinking of three boats had been requesting the resumption of pump boat operations.
During her visit at the wake of those who died, Robredo said relatives told her that no inspection [of boats] were done since the trips were suspended.
The relatives told her that roll-on-roll-off (RoRo) vessels — bigger ferries — continued to make trips, but they prioritized cargo and vehicles. Some fast craft also made trips, but they were expensive for most people.
“They claim that that the decision [to suspend passenger trips] was anti-poor,” the Vice President said in Filipino.
She said she would submit a report to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which would mention the request of the families.
“In my view, there’s an air of desperation here,” Robredo said. “They said their livelihood has been affected. Their work has been affected when the trips were canceled.
“I think the [government] reaction should not be knee-jerk,” she added. “The people here should be consulted. This should be discussed properly. On top of the tragedy that they already experienced, they don’t want another tragedy to happen.”
Guimaras residents, she said, complained that they could not send their products to Iloilo. Those working or studying in Iloilo could not get travel properly.
“We saw with our own eyes how long the lines [to available boat trips] were,” Robredo said. “It’s really hard for them.”
Voicing out the sentiments of the families, Robredo said that solutions provided should help, not add problems to the community.
During her visit, Robredo extended financial assistance to families, saying that she sympathized with them.
She remembered how her husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, died at sea in Masbate when the plane he was riding crashed.
“For three days, his body could not be found,” she told the families. “So I know the grief that you’re going through.”
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