The national government has intervened in a growing row over the city of Manila’s decision to impose an extended truck ban on city roads.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte on Wednesday said that Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras has met with concerned agencies to come up with a compromise.
”Everyone is looking for ways to move forward or at least find a compromise agreement,” Valte said in a press briefing.
According to her, Almendras had called the concerned national government agencies to “explore ways to move forward” on the issue.
She said that Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino was tasked to coordinate with Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, while Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Juan Sta. Ana, on one hand, has been tasked to speak with the truckers’ group.
”Pareho silang well-meaning, may kanya-kanyang dahilan. Ang task natin is to help them come up with a compromise acceptable to both of them,” Valte said.
Erap blames truckers
Estrada blamed the truckers for the reported revenue losses of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for the first two days of the truck holiday.
The BOC said it lost P215.8 million on the first day of truck holiday.
“Blame the truckers. It was them who declared truck holiday. They should be blamed for these losses,” Estrada told reporters.
He said all sectors, including the owners of hauling companies, were invited during the crafting of the ordinance so there is no reason why his administration should be blamed for the mess.
“We conducted hearings or consultations. The proposed ordinance were explained to all stakeholders,” he said.
Estrada said the city government even held a truck summit to ensure that all concerned individuals and groups were given ample time to air their sentiments and positions.
He added that a compromise has been reached and a modified truck ban was implemented since Monday, but six-wheeler truck owners still refused to pick up the containers from the ports in Manila.
“We now have this window period from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., what else do they want?” he asked.
The Manila International Container Port (MICP) was only able to generate P262.8 million, a 27-percent decline compared to its daily P360 million average. Revenues of the Port of Manila (POM) dropped 47 percent to P134.4 million from a daily average of P253 million.
MMDA offers compromise
In a related development, Metro Manila mayors appealed to the city government of Manila for a 15-day dry run period of its daytime truck ban.
The MMDA’s Tolentino said they had communicated their appeal to Estrada on Wednesday afternoon.
In a letter, the Metro Manila Council-Special Traffic Committee (MMC-STC) said the experimental period will enable the different sectors and stakeholders to make the necessary adjustments.
“It will also determine the effects of the truck ban ordinance in traffic, import and export industry, and other national economic aspects,” the letter reads.
The letter was signed by Tolentino, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, the chairman of MMC-STC, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez.
Before coming out with the proposal, Tolentino said the MMC-STC consulted the stakeholders to formulate new truck ban regulations for the approval of the MMC.
In its proposal, the MMC-STC wanted the city of Manila not to apprehend trucks plying Manila streets after the window time of 3 p.m. But before 5 p.m. during the 15-day grace period.
Manila on Monday implemented Ordinance 8336 otherwise known as Manila City Truck Ban where it expanded the truck ban hours, allowing truckers to use its roads only from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Upon the negotiations of MMDA, the city government later introduced a window period from 10 a.m. to 3 pm.
Meanwhile, the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) belied reports of congestion in the Port of Manila, even as it cautioned lawmakers and the general public against issuing broad statements without understanding the trade and logistics situation.
Reacting to Rep. Raneo Abu of the second District of Batangas’ statement on congestion in the Port of Manila, Christian Gonzalez, ICTSI Head of the Asian Region, said that the Port of Manila is the 25th largest non-transshipment port in the world, and the 37th largest container port overall in terms of capacity and volume handled.
“There are thousands of container ports around the globe. The Port handles more containerized cargo than any single port in 10 of the 20 member states of the G20 largest economies in the world. Specifically, the Port also handles more containers than any container port in Australia, France, Italy, Brazil, Canada or Russia,” he said.
He added that the whole Port of Manila handles about 3.8 million TEUs (20 foot equivalent containers). Batangas, on the other hand, has a theoretical maximum capacity of no more than 300,000 TEUs today.
“People need to be more responsible with their use of statistics,” Gonzalez said.
Manila has 24 ship-to-shore cranes and more than 70-yard gantry cranes, whereas Batangas has two and four, respectively.
With additional reports from Rosalie C. Periabras and Ritchie Horario