Subic, Batangas named extensions of Manila port

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has signed Executive Order 172 declaring the ports of Subic and Batangas as extensions of the Port of Manila during congestion and other emergency situations, such as strikes, lockouts and natural calamities, a Palace official said yesterday.

Under the EO, foreign vessels with the Port of Manila as their destination or origin may be directed to Batangas port or Subic Bay Freeport. Even if these vessels use these alternate ports, the Port of Manila will still be considered their berthing point.

 Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said berthing and other port fees in Subic and Batangas will be applied to foreign vessels if they are directed to these alternate ports.

She said the EO was signed on Sept. 13 to give the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) the power to designate alternate piers for shipments to the Manila port.

“It is no secret that port congestion in Manila is one of the major factors that hinders the free flow of goods passing through the ports,” Valte said.

“We have seen the effects on the demand-supply chain, and on economic growth. The EO seeks to alleviate these problems,” she added.

The SBMA welcomed the President’s signing of EO 172 as it would stir business activities in Subic port, SBMA public relations executive Ron Balingit said in a text message to The STAR.

Subic Bay Freeport’s New Container Terminal-2 has been assigned as an extension of the Port of Manila.

SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia said there are 4,000 shipping containers “overstaying” at the Port of Manila.

To address port congestion, he said the SBMA and PPA have agreed to ship the overstaying containers from Manila to Subic twice a week.

Garcia said the SBMA is considering reducing its current port fees to be competitive with fees in other ports so that more shippers would use Subic.

Biz groups back EO 172

Business groups support President Aquino’s declaration of Batangas and Subic ports as extension of the Manila port to address congestion.

Management Association of the Philippines president Gregorio Navarro said yesterday the issuance by Malacañang of EO 172 is a welcome development.

“This is a good move… I would assume that all the port fees would also be harmonized,” Navarro said.

For his part, Makati Business Club (MBC) executive director Peter Perfecto said “the EO will be more useful in the context of a comprehensive and long term logistics and transport plan for the country.”

With port congestion affecting the country’s competitiveness rankings, the MBC sees the need for such to be addressed urgently.

Sergio Ortiz Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., said they support Malacañang’s move to solve port congestion.

He said the EO will help encourage greater utilization of the Batangas and Subic ports.

For his part, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines senior advisor John Forbes said they are hopeful utilization of Batangas and Subic ports will remain high.

“We would like to see two added cranes installed in Batangas port within the year to double its capacity,” he said.

The truck ban imposed by the city government of Manila in February has resulted in the pileup of cargo at Manila’s ports.

Last Saturday, Mayor Joseph Estrada lifted the truck ban. – With Louella Desiderio, Bebot Sison Jr.

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