SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has urged the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to further develop the Roll-on, Roll-off transport system.
Because RORO has been close to her heart since her presidency, Arroyo expressed disappointment upon learning that most of the new routes of the RORO were already in existence or being serviced by shipping lines in nearby ports.
During the hearing of the Oversight Committee on Transportation, it was learned that most of the 30 proposed new RORO routes under DOTr’s Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) have already existing ports or are being serviced by other shipping lines.
Having launched the RORO system in 2003, Speaker Arroyo went over each of the 30 proposed new routes to determine why 16 years later, the new routes remain unserved by the system.
However, going through them one by one, it was established that most of them are already being served by shipping lines in nearby ports or there are already existing port facilities.
The proposed Jagna, Camiguin to Cagayan de Oro route was revealed to be already being serviced by a shipping line.
Because of this, Arroyo suggested that they correct the proposed plan.
“Please correct that because you might be submitting an ambitious (plan) but it does not have to cost that much,” she said.
“If there is already an existing port nearby then maybe you can remove that to lessen the expected expenditures. There are many that you can take out so maybe you have to refine this plan. It will be a much shorter plan, easier to carry out,” she added.
Lawmakers also noted the inability of officials from the DOTr, the Philippine Ports Authority and MARINA to answer some of the questions of Speaker Arroyo on basic technical details like travel time, port location as well as the question of Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando on the port charges being collected from container trucks.
Arroyo also suggested that for the unserved ports because of lack of operators, the DOTr should give missionary routes to shipping lines.
A missionary route is an incentive given to a shipping line to service a new route exclusively for five years.
“Giving the missionary routes, I don’t think you need an executive order for that. You know when I was president, not everything was done by executive order. The departments had a lot of leeway because you don’t want to clog Malacanang with executive orders,” she said.
It was one of her administration’s priority programs to ensure fast and economical movement of goods and people, and to boost domestic tourism and trade.
The Asian Development Bank, which had proposed the project, had said the RORO system cut the cost of the transport system and travel time in the Philippines.
Her administration was able to construct 49 RORO routes from Luzon to Mindanao. However, the Aquino administration canceled most of the RORO projects approved during her time. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte had decided to revitalize the RORO system citing its importance to trade and tourism.
Today, there are a total 140 Roro routes all over the country cutting travel time, promoting tourism and increasing trade.
The RORO system has three routes: the Western Nautical Highway, Eastern Nautical Highway and Central Nautical Highway. These cover the provinces and cities of Tagaytay and Batangas City of Region 4-A, Marinduque, Romblon and Oriental Mindoro in Luzon. Also covered are Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Cebu, and Bohol in the Visayas. There is also a route from Luzon going to Palawan. Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao are also part of the route.