Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas is reiterating his call to fast-track the proposed development of the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex (ICPC) in a bid to provide better services for more international shipments.
The city mayor, who also chairs the Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC)-6, recently met with Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Bureau of Customs and Iloilo business groups to discuss the congestion issue involving not only the port but also the Iloilo airport.
Treñas, wrote PPA general manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago in a letter dated Sept. 5, 2023, requesting to prioritize funding for port development.
“We have a number of international vessels arriving in our international port already –that means we do away with the port of Manila and Cebu because they can go straight here in our port. This will also be a big savings for our businessmen,” he said.
He stressed there is a need to improve the port to go with the fast-growing development of the city and region.
He cited Western Visayas’ economic growth rate of 9.3 percent, highest among all regions and exceeding national average of 7.2 percent, while Iloilo City also registered an up-scaled economic growth since 2021.
Treñas emphasized that the improvement of port facilities will pave the way for more international container ship arrivals.
“This can contribute a lot to the economic growth of the city and the region as well as improve our connectivity,” he added.
He also expressed support for the development of the port through public-private partnership (PPP).
To note, the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) planned to revive its proposal to develop and operate the ICPC.
ICTSI initially wanted to pour in an estimated investment of over P5-billion to fully develop the ICPC. It has also eyed the Port of Dumangas in the province.
RESOLUTIONS OF SUPPORT
The Iloilo City Council, in a resolution passed during its Oct. 18 regular session, urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to expedite the privatization and improvement of the Iloilo International Port.
The legislative body sees the accessibility of a locality to domestic and international transportation and logistics as an essential factor in the expansion and development of local trade, commerce and tourism.
“The privatization of the Iloilo International Port through a (PPP) is deemed as the most expeditious and efficient course of action to expand, improve and develop the said seaport, minimal to no financial burden upon the government, which said financial constrains would otherwise pose as a hindrance to the development the same,” the resolution read.
On its part, the Iloilo City Local Development Council Executive Committee also passed Resolution No. 2–2023 expressing the same.
The Council, in its previous resolution, had already endorsed the unsolicited proposal of ICTSI to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the development, operation and maintenance of ICPC, stressing the need to privatize the port.
Meanwhile, business groups such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)- Iloilo, Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Iloilo, Inc. (FCCCII) and the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation (ILED) issued their respective statement likewise expressed support and called to expedite the expansion and improvement of the Iloilo port, citing that a PPP is ideal for the accomplishment of said objective.
“The urgent attention to this appeal will surely catalyze investment, business, growth, employment and tourism for Iloilo and our neighboring provinces,” PCCI-Iloilo through its president Engr. Fulbert Woo stated.
ILED chairman Engr. Terence Uygongco, on his part, stressed that the port limitations hinder Iloilo’s potential for economic growth and curtail the region’s ability to engage in global commerce effectively.
“We firmly believe that a PPP model not only expedites the modernization process but also ensures the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies, operational expertise, and innovative solutions. Through collaboration with private investors, we can significantly enhance the port’s operational depth, enabling it to handle larger cargo vessels and fostering smoother international trade. Moreover, the development of additional facilities for port operations is paramount to increasing efficiency and promoting seamless logistics,” Uygongco added.
The FCCII, which is also headed by Uygongco, also urged the PPA to move forward with a proposed PPP and worked together with DOTr to address the issues.
The FCCCI believes that a PPP is the best way to ensure that the ICPC is upgraded and modernized in a timely and efficient manner. (Iloilo City PIO)