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New seaport hubs seen to boost Palawan trade with BIMP-EAGA countries

(From left) Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, 2nd District Rep. Cyrille Abueg during the inauguration ceremony of San Fernando Port in El Nido on Saturday. | Photo from Asec. Goddes Hope Libiran facebook page

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) inaugurated Friday three seaport hubs in Palawan, considered as strategic facilities that will boost travel and link the province to the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP EAGA) market.

Worth P669.1 billion, the Port of San Fernando in Barangay San Fernando in El Nido, the Port of Borac in Brgy. Borac in Coron, and the Port of Buliluyan in Brgy. Buliluyan in Bataraza are the three newest seaports in the province that were simultaneously inaugurated on March 19 by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade described the project “a fulfillment of the long-awaited dream of Palawan” to enhance connectivity and mobility.

“Nangarap sila [Palaweños] na dapat magkaroon ng puerto, dapat magkaroon ng connectivity, at dapat magkaroon ng mobility. Ngayong araw na ito, yung pangarap na ‘yan ay [nagkatotoo]. At, napakagandang pangarap pagka’t ngayon [ay] mag-i-inauguarate tayo ng hindi isang puerto, hindi dalawa, kundi tatlong puerto—kasagutan sa pangarap ng Palawan,” Tugade said.

“Ang connectivity at mobility na ating kinikilala at binibigyang-buhay, ito ay magbibigay ng ugnayan sa Palawan, hindi lamang sa mga islang nakapaligid dito, ngunit, magkakaroon ng ugnayan—mobility and connectivity—sa Luzon, Visayas, kasama na ang ASEAN, Brunei Darusalam, kasama na yong Malaysia, at yong Indonesia,” he added.

He said the three ports are part of the 19 seaport development projects that the DOTr is implementing in the country under the Build, Build, Build (BBB) centerpiece program of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Tugade also emphasized during the event in El Nido that the transportation hubs are the manifestation of the ideal working relationship between the local and national governments to reach dreams for the people and the country’s future.

“We must also celebrate the partnership between the national government and the local government… local government na pinamumunuan ni Gov. (Jose) Alvarez… iisa ang tinig, iisa ang kumpas kaya nga ang nangyari ang ating panaginip kasi ang lesson nyan, dapat iisa ang direksyon,” he said.

Tugade said their only request is for the people of Palawan not just to enjoy their benefits, but to take care of them for long-term use.

Other seaport development projects

PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago, meanwhile, announced that there are other seaport development projects that are rolling in Puerto Princesa City, Busuanga, Coron, and Aborlan.

He said the old port in Coron will be improved, and its Port Operations Building will undergo rehabilitation.

“Dito po sa Coron, bagama’t nagawa na yung ating bagong pantalan diyan sa Borac, ‘yun pong luma natin na pantalan sa Coron town, ay ii-improve pa natin ‘yan. Kailangang ayusin ang Port Operations Building dyan para mas maganda ang serbisyo ng PPA sa ating port users, at kailangan continuously ina-upgrade ang mga pier dahil bugbog talaga ang mga pantalan sa dami ng biyahe,” Santiago said.

In Aborlan, he said the small port will undergo development and improvement to accelerate services for residents and speed up the movement of cargoes as an alternate route.

“Sa Aborlan naman po, ay kung papaano pa natin mai-improve ‘yung ating maliit na pantalan po doon, upang makapagsilbi rin po, hindi lamang po doon sa mangingisda, kundi para masilbihan din po yung mga diretso pong kargamento, as an alternate port sa Southern Palawan, other than Puerto Princesa,” he added.

Governor Alvarez said the seaport projects underline the importance of having “political will” to achieve projects that can help in Palawan’s economic development.

“Kung walang political will galing sa Palawan, walang political will mula sa PPA, at walang political will mula sa isang Secretary [Secretary Tugade] na halos hindi na natutulog [matapos lamang ang proyekto], hindi matatapos ang mga proyekto ni Pangulong Duterte. Ako’y nagpapasalamat kay President Duterte na when he assumed office in 2016, wala na pong tigil ang mga proyekto dito sa Palawan,” Governor Alvarez said.

Members of the House of Representatives, as well as the Mayor of El Nido, have also expressed their gratitude to the DOTr, the PPA, and the local government, in fulfilling the much-needed and much-awaited port infrastructure in Palawan.

2nd District Rep. Cyrille Abueg Zaldivar said, “Thank you very much sa ating Secretary Arthur Tugade, na talagang kapag nagsabi po siya na ‘Gagawin ko,’ ay talagang maisasakatuparan”.

3rd District Rep. Gil Acosta, Jr. said, “Sec. Art, maraming salamat po at natupad na naman ang isang pangarap ng lalawigan ng Palawan”.

El Nido Mayor Edna Lim conveyed, “Kami po ay buong pusong nagpapasalamat sa lahat po ng taong tumulong para maidaos ang inauguration na ito.”

Other officials who were also present during the event are DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Garry De Guzman, Undersecretary for Administrative Services Artemio Tuazon Jr., Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, Chief of Staff/Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez, Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Commuter Affairs Goddes Hope Libiran, and PPA Port Management Office – Palawan Port Manager Elizalde Ulson.

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