Calapan port back in business after turnover standoff

After a standstill on the morning of July 12, operations at the Port of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro were back to normal late in the afternoon of the same day. Photo courtesy of PPA PMO Mindoro.
  • The standstill at the Port of Calapan in Mindoro this morning (July 12) has ended and the port is now operating normally
  • The standstill occurred when Calapan Labor Service Development Cooperative staff refused to leave the port to make way for the takeover of new terminal operator, Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, Inc.
  • Oriental Mindoro governor Humerlito Dolor asked the Philippine Ports Authority to ensure no worker employed by the old terminal operator will be displaced due to the turnover

Operations at the Port of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro are back to normal following a standstill that started this morning (July 12) during the scheduled turnover of the port to the new terminal operator.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Port Management Office (PMO)-Mindoro acting port manager Leo Romero, during an afternoon livestream with Oriental Mindoro governor Humerlito Dolor on July 12, said the port late this afternoon has resumed operations following the departure of the staff of the old operator Calapan Labor Service Development Cooperative (CALSEDECO).

CALSEDECO is a multipurpose cooperative that had been operating Calapan port for more than 40 years.

Bienvenido Basco, general manager of Calapan port’s new terminal operator Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, Inc. (PCBSI), told PortCalls they have taken over operations and expect to accommodate all cargoes affected by the standstill. He noted that as of 7 p.m., four vessels were already loading cargoes simultaneously.

The standstill occurred this morning after staff from CALSEDECO refused to leave the port to make way for the takeover.

CALSEDECO had requested PPA to first wait for the court to resolve a case it filed against the port authority last June.

CALSEDECO staff and some lawmakers also reportedly put up a barricade this morning, preventing cargoes and passengers from entering Calapan port, the main gateway to Oriental Mindoro handling fast craft and roll-on/roll-off vessels.

PPA PMO Mindoro argued that there is no court decision yet and that PCBSI now holds the legitimate contract with PPA.

Oriental Mindoro first district representative Paulino Salvador Leachon, in a Facebook post on the morning of July 12, claimed PPA forcibly drove out CALSEDECO as the cargo-handling operator of Calapan port. This was denied by Romero, who said the port police only requested the staff to leave.

PPA last April announced the bidding for the 15-year port terminal management contract for Calapan port.

READ: PPA seeks Calapan port operator

PCBSI won last May with a bid of P1.495 billion. CALSEDECO did not join the bidding.

PPA issued the contract and notice to proceed last June 30 to PCBSI, which was supposed to take over the port on July 12.

With the award of the contract, CALSEDECO’s holdover authority (HOA) to operate Calapan port expired on June 30.

CALSEDECO’s last contract with PPA was from June 2006 to June 2016. PPA then issued an HOA to ensure no disruption in operations, and has since been renewing CALSEDECO’s HOA.

The last HOA extension was for January 1 until December 31, 2021, or until a new contract for terminal management has been awarded by PPA.

CALSEDECO, however, filed a case against PPA and its bids and awards committee.

In a letter to Romero dated July 7, CALSEDECO general manager Sonia Satur said they have a pending petition for certiorari with the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 22 covering CALSEDECO’s 2006 management contract and its preferential right to operate and manage Calapan port.

“Since CALSEDECO and the PPA have submitted to the court’s jurisdiction, we deem it proper to allow the court to resolve these issues in due course during the proceedings. We trust that PPA will take no further action against CALSEDECO and let the pending case run its course, out of respect to the judicial process and our Constitutional rights to seek legitimate redress of our grievances,” Satur said.

On June 14, the Manila RTC denied CALSEDECO’s petition for a temporary restraining order (RTO) against PPA. The terminal operator filed for a motion for reconsideration and on July 12, Manila RTC Branch 22 presiding judge Tammy Ann Mendillo denied, for lack of merit, CALSEDECO’s petition to overturn its June 14 order.

Romero during the livestream claimed that prior to July 12, they had written to CALSEDECO about the turnover but the operator did not respond.

PCBSI’s management also wrote CALSEDECO to manifest its interest to absorb the latter’s port workers and acquire its cargo-handling gear and equipment, and firefighting and office equipment.

Basco told PortCalls in a phone interview that this offer still stands and they are willing to absorb CALSEDECO’s port workers.

Dolor, meanwhile, has asked PPA to ensure that no port worker of CALSEDECO would be out of work as a result of the turnover. PPA has also ordered CALSEDECO to comply with its contract, specifically to give the affected workers their Port Labor Trust Fund. – Roumina Pablo