NO TRANSPORT TO BRING HOME 4,000 STRANDED PINOYS FROM FUKISHIMA

MANILA, MARCH 21, 2011 
(TRIBUNE) A recent request by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) from the domestic shipping industry to help repatriate stranded Filipinos in Fukishima, Japan brought to fore the fact that local shipping lines no longer have international passenger ships.

“We are now looking where to get ships to ferry over 4,000 stranded Filipinos close to the nuclear plant that exploded in previous days,” revealed Ernesto Paguyo, executive director of the Philippine Interisland Shipping Association (PISA).

A nuclear power plant near the epicenter of a tsunami-spawning earthquake was declared by the Japanese government a health hazard to residents around it after a few of its power generators exploded in the aftermath of the temblor and tsunami.

The absence of locally-owned passenger ships plying international waters highlights the state of uncompetitiveness the industry reached, Paguyo explained in a talk with Philexport News and Features.

“It is a self-inflicted state on the local industry through wrong policies, too much regulations and fees attached to these regulations and the sad state of Philippine ports,” he added.

One such policy is the lack of access to credit for domestic shipping lines to be able to modernize their fleets and bring down costs. Another big burden is the high cost of fuel.

He said that due to the difficulty of competing with foreign passenger vessels, the domestic shipping industry has long abandoned international passenger routes. A few of them still ply international waters like Magsaysay Lines, but their ships are freighters that bring in and out goods to and from the Philippines.

Paguyo also confirmed the long-standing complaint that bringing goods from General Santos City in Mindanao to Manila is more expensive than bringing the same goods from Bangkok, Thailand, still holds true as a result of the benign neglect on the development of the domestic shipping.

Shipbuilding as a domestic industry was thriving in the Philippines until the ’70s. Only recently did a Korean company Hanjin, revived shipbuilding, a necessary upstream segment of a vibrant domestic shipping industry. Philexport News and Features


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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