Home » Maritime, Ports/Terminals, Press Releases » PPA: 46 years of promoting nation-building through integrity, dedicated public service in ports

13 JULY 2020, MANILA—The year 2020 was supposed to be a prosperous year for the entire world, according to fortune tellers.

Everybody was upbeat. The busi­ness community, government economic leaders, and GOCCs like the Philippine Ports Authority were anticipating unprec­edented opportunities ushered in by the new year and a new decade.

Until disaster struck.

In the first quarter of the year alone, the Philippines already faced several chal­lenges: the eruption of Taal Volcano in January displacing thousands of residents from the provinces of Batangas and Cavite as well as nearby cities and municipalities; the death of notable celebrities and world leaders where countries, the Philippines included, drew inspiration from; and the spread of a new strain of Coronavirus now known as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19.

READ: PPA 46th anniversary supplement

The magnitude of its spread is so huge, affecting even nations considered as global superpowers, infecting and killing hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

The Philippines has not been spared from this global health crisis. It caught the entire nation by surprise, paralyzing the flow of people, goods, trade and tourism up until this time.

If not for the proactive approach of the National Government led by Presi­dent Rodrigo Roa Duterte immediately placing the entire country under a State of Public Health Emergency on 16 March 2020, health conditions in the Philippines could have been worse considering the huge number of infections not only in the country’s capital but also in other densely populated areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Anchored on this declaration, the PPA, under the guidance of Transporta­tion Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, wasted no time and quickly buckled down to work to ensure the presence of the agency is felt especially by communities whose livelihood depends heavily on its ports.

Thus, the Bayanihan sa Pantalan was born.

Wave upon wave of relief operation was conducted in partnership with the private sector and other civic organiza­tions to help t

hose in need like porters, dockworkers and immediate neighboring communities to help them withstand the global pandemic.

PPA employees also continued to help by sharing a portion of their salaries to help our countrymen most in need.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said that, in the midst of this pandemic, the agency and its people once again showed their unity and resiliency by working together toward finding ways to provide public service beyond the usual day-to-day performance of their duties and responsibilities.

“It is really overwhelmi

ng that the PPA, across all its offices, has moved forward as one unit, contributing to the efforts of the Government as it copes with challenges that the country is facing due to the pandemic, not to mention the other challenges and emergencies that the country has faced since the start of the year,” GM Santiago emphasized.

“The ‘Bayanihan sa Pantalan’ initiative of the PPA community with the help of other government agencies and civic or­ganizations has provided relief goods and cash assistance to a total of 5,762 porters, dockworkers, PPA outsourced personnel and other persons in need with an overall estimated amount of P2,298,443.83 all over the 25 PPA PMOs,” GM Santiago said.

Not only that, PPA made a big splash in helping the country ease effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the day-to-day lives of Filipinos by paying in advance its 2019 dividend remittance amounting to P5 billion to help government finance its anti-COVID 19 measures. It is the biggest dividend remitted by PPA in its 46 years of existence that enabled PPA to land a spot in the Top 20 Philippine Corporations released by the Department of Finance.

Likewise, using the P100-million fund­ing from the Lopez Group of Companies, the PPA—through the guidance of the Department of Transportation and in partnership with the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Industry Authority and the Department of Health, with other government agencies, the 2GO Group and Asian Terminals, Inc.—retrofitted the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal inside the South Harbor into a state-of the art 211-bed capacity Bayanihan to Heal As One COVID-19 Quarantine Center to help ease demand for such quarantine facility due to the increasing number of infections in the NCR and nearby cities, provinces and municipalities. The PPA likewise procured a Stage 3 Ambulance to further prop up capability of the Quar­antine Center using donations from the Lopez Group of Companies.

And in partnership with the manage­ments of Manila International Container Terminal and Manila South Harbor, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture, the Depart­ment of Finance and the Bureau of Cus­toms, a Joint Administrative Order was issued to address looming congestion at the Ports of Manila brought about by non-withdrawal of cargoes due to COVID-19.

To further assist port stakeholders, the PPA extended the payment of concession and rental fees by 30 days for all payments falling under the period of community quarantine and likewise extended the Holdover Authority and permits issued by the agency during the quarantine period up to 31 July 2020.

Taking the lead from the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerg­ing Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, PPA issued a memo easing cargo movement to and from ports to address demands of inter­national and local supply chains particularly essential supplies amid the pandemic.

The PPA also continues to help and support other government programs specifically the Balik-Probinsya Program of the Office of the President, the repa­triation of locally stranded individuals, returning overseas Filipinos, seafarers and students. To date, more than 20,000 repatriates were handled and processed in different ports nationwide and the number continues to grow.

While still in the middle of the pan­demic, PPA has successfully completed 14 port projects to boost connectivity and efficiency of the ports system to ad­dress future demands of local and foreign shipping. These projects include ports in Coron, Palawan; Boac, Marinduque; Estancia, Iloilo; Iligan, Lanao del Norte; Jagna, Bohol; Mansalay, Oriental Mind­oro; Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental; El Nido, Palawan; Tagbilaran, Bohol; Malalag, Davao del Sur; Currimao, Ilocos Sur; and Masao, Agusan del Norte. There are also two separate projects for the Iloilo Com­mercial Port Complex. The PPA was able to complete these projects without registering any COVID-19 infection.

Moving forward

Considering the high risk of COVID-19 infection, the PPA is implementing measures to guarantee that ports remain COVID-free in preparation for the ‘new normal’. The measures include misting of luggage and cargoes of incoming passengers, mandatory wearing of face masks, manda­tory washing of hands before entering any port premises, accomplishment of the PPA entry protocol form for contact tracing, markings relative to physical distancing and the establishment of COVID-19 Test­ing Facilities in select ports.

PPA is also partnering with other gov­ernment agencies like the Department of Health in its anti-COVID-19 advocacies by utilizing all available port platforms to help bring information to the public.

PPA is likewise eliminating face-to-face transactions by introducing online platforms like the unified passenger ticket­ing system, automated payment scheme and automated cargo payment regime to comply with ‘new normal’ procedures.

The agency is set to complete 22 more port projects this year to further improve operational efficiency of PPA ports. The projects include the Pier 18 rehabilitation and upgrade in Vitas, Tondo, Manila; the construction of a port operations building in Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro; the Balanacan Port expansion project in Marinduque; construction of the RC Pier and Ro-Ro ramp at the Port of Bansud, Oriental Mindoro; construction of a back-up area at the Port of Bulalacao also in Oriental Mindoro; construction of a Ro-Ro ramp and expansion project at the Port of Bulan, Sorsogon; and construction of the Coastal Access Road project at the Port of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

Also expected to be finished by the end of the year are the expansion of the Port of Capinpin, Bataan; reconstruction of the Carmen Port in San Agustin, Romblon; the Cobo Port construction project in Cobo, Catanduanes; and construction of port operations buildings at the ports of Coron, Currimao, Masbate, Mauban, Quezon, and Talaga in Mabini, Batangas.

The port rehabilitation and upgrad­ing of RC wharf at the Port of Legazpi; the port expansion projects in Matnog, Puerto Princesa, Salomague, Ilocos Sur, Tablas, Romblon, and TMO Pasig; and the rehabilitation of the Port of Tabaco, Albay are also targeted for completion by the end of 2020.

More importantly, PPA is taking care of its major asset: its people. Round-the-clock supply of COVID-19 protective equipment and other essentials are being provided to all its ports in order to protect employees, particularly frontline person­nel against possible infection. Alternative work platforms are adopted to further reduce the risk. Campaign materials are posted in strategic places to remind its employees on ‘new normal’ procedures.

“We cannot do all of these if we do not take care of our people. The employees are the foundation of the success of our agency most especially during this pandemic. PPA is blessed with having a hardwork­ing workforce giving unparalleled public service during this pandemic. Showing what ‘Bayanihan sa Pantalan’ is all about. As their General Manager, I salute each and every one of them. As we continue to march on forward in this fight during our 46th Founding Anniversary, we will show what PPA is all about: Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Pagbangon,” Santiago said.

“The PPA remains committed to provide the best service we can as we consider ourselves as soldiers in this bat­tle,” he concluded. – Text and photos from PPA

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