Estrada, city council want share in ports’ income
MANILA, Philippines—Barely three weeks after Manila imposed an expanded truck ban and drew protests from businessmen in the cargo moving sector, its councilors passed a resolution asking for a share in the income of port operations in the city.
Authored by Councilors DJ Bagatsing and Manuel Zarcal, the resolution urges Congress to repeal or amend laws pertaining to the Philippine Ports Authority “in order to rightfully give Manila the due and equitable involvement it deserves relating to the operations [and] income of all ports and harbors situated within the city.”
As the site of strategic harbors, Manila “continues to unduly bear the brunt of very demanding and extensive port-related activities,” while its people suffer from increased traffic congestion, pollution, structural road damage and risks of vehicular accidents, according to the resolution approved on Tuesday.
In support of the measure, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada put it more bluntly: “They’re making money but the city has no income from them. They are the only ones who earn but they use our roads, they damage our roads and they pollute our roads. We should have a share in the income.”
The city government had begun studying an “income-sharing scheme” that could be arranged, Estrada told the Inquirer.
Bagatsing said the sharing scheme would depend on Congress but that it could be patterned after those adopted by other port cities.
Copies of the resolution were set to be forwarded to Senators Jinggoy Estrada and JV Ejercito, sons of Mayor Estrada; Vice President Jejomar Binay; Senate President Franklin Drilon; Manila congressmen; and the Department of Transportation and Communications.
In an effort to ease traffic, Manila implemented a citywide truck ban starting Feb. 24, barring eight-wheel trucks and vehicles with gross weight above 4,500 kilos from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. But after a strike by truckers that went on for three days, Estrada allowed a two-week trial for “window hours,” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., for trucks with loaded containers.
Estrada on Thursday announced that in view of the “favorable results” of the trial, the window hours would remain for the six-month period set by the city government to help truckers and other stakeholders adjust and possibly transfer their operations to the Batangas and Subic ports.
Meanwhile, in a media forum, Aduana Business Club Inc. president Mary Zapata pointed out that Estrada earlier agreed to “a 24/7 truck lane” for loaded trucks but changed his mind after three hours.
Zapata said truckers also aired complaints against abusive towing crews and traffic enforcers imposing the ban. “They will flag the truckers down and when the driver stops, the truck will be towed for obstruction,” she said.
Told of Zapata’s remark about the mayor changing his mind so soon, Estrada said that after exchanging views with city councilors and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, the city’s “traffic czar,” they arrived at the conclusion that the 24/7 truck lane would not be feasible.
Earlier this week, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined calls for the lifting of the truck ban, saying delays in cargo delivery and unmet business commitments could lead to job losses.
The Bureau of Customs, government banks and port operators were also forced to extend their working hours because of the ban.
The Department of Labor and Employment has scheduled a truckers’ summit on March 19 to address the concerns of the workers in industrial zones affected by the Manila measure.
After regulating the operation of buses and trucks, the city government is setting its sights on tricycles, pedicabs and “kuliglig” (motorized pedicabs). Councilor Zarcal said a tricycle summit would be held within the next two weeks.
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