Enforcement of business friendliness in the Port of Matnog

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Next, we believe that the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) should have a more defined and prominent role in drafting policies and guidelines with the shipping companies in the port of Matnog to ensure they work with the government to manage the situation in the port to relax and that they do not use their concessions indiscriminately against the public interest. Regarding the passenger priority order system, they should provide clear guidelines on the percentage that should be allocated to those who have credit lines and walk-in passengers, as well as the first-in-first-out system, especially in emergency situations. This is currently done by shipping companies, but we believe that transferring this responsibility to a government agency like Marina would result in clearer and more understandable guidelines. The marina should also adopt a more scientifically based planning system for the ships of the Port of Matnog. Passengers must be properly informed about the departure and arrival times of the ships, the number of ships available, the frequency of the trips and the like. This should be calculated based on passenger traffic to ensure that everyone is on their journey and that cruise lines do not exceed their capacity by selling more tickets and trying to accommodate more passengers than they can accommodate. The PCG should then strictly enforce this schedule. In the meantime, Local Government Units (LGUs) should review their policies to determine if there is a real need to levy an environmental quarantine fee for each passenger and a road use fee for each vehicle traveling through a short stretch of municipal road between the national road and port gate. The agency and other key government agencies had signed an executive order prohibiting the charging of transit fees. We should also consider that any additional costs in the logistics sector would ultimately be borne by consumers as they would increase the prices of products and goods. We will also invite the affected LGUs to carry out a Regulatory Impact Assessment Training with the ARTA. Let’s remember that we can make up for the lack of infrastructure with good politics.

As for the process, we are pleased that our proposal to set up a one-stop shop in the port of Matnog has already been implemented. However, the current one-stop shop only brought different offices to one place, but passengers still have to pay separate fees for different services. ARTA is striving for a single-window approach in order to speed up the processing of fees and requirements. So we propose setting up a system similar to what we already have with the airline ticketing system. This can be done 100 percent online and only requires a one off payment for flight and airport fees as everything is included. Also, you don’t have to risk whether you can board the plane. This will synchronize the payment system and avoid inconveniences for passengers and even truckers as they no longer have to go from one place to another to pay different fees. This would reduce traffic jams and also mess up the bureaucratic bureaucracy system. This would also harmonize the existing ticket systems of all shipping companies. Automating the ticketing system could even reduce or decrease the need for the PO system as passengers and cargo owners would no longer need pre-sale tickets. We have been informed by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) that they are already working on the online ticketing system.

Finally, in terms of governance, national government agencies and the LGUs involved should demonstrate strong political will if they aim to solve the problems plaguing the Port of Matnog. That being said, the PCG, PPA, Marina and any other government agencies involved in managing the Port of Matnog should ensure their policies are in line with the provincial government. The reason we established an ARTAmbayan outpost in the area is that we want to challenge government agencies, LGUs, private interest groups as well as the public to work together in harmony to fight corruption. As I’ve always said, if you see any bureaucracy or corruption in the area, whether it’s the formation of long lines, the increase in fixers and the like, you need to step up and take the initiative to fight it. Let’s not point fingers. Instead, let’s try to find solutions as soon as possible.

Our visit to the Port of Matnog aligns with our cARTAravan initiative, where we plan to travel through different regions of the country to raise awareness of the agency’s ease of doing business and initiatives to cut red tape. By doing this, we want to ensure that the reforms we have institutionalized extend beyond Metro Manila’s borders and are felt down to the grassroots level. All of this is consistent with our mandate to oversee a national policy of streamlining and automation, and is part of our campaign to promote a nationwide approach to eliminating red tape and corruption in the country. We would like to remind government agencies again that this is not the time to work in silos, especially when it comes to managing entities of national importance. We hope that all other groups and government agencies that we have met with will continue to coordinate with us to eliminate bureaucracy and corruption in the Port of Matnog.

About Christine Geisler

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