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Subic eyed to ease port congestion

Optimizing the Subic Container Port that will decongest Metro Manila of a good number of burdensome containers and ease traffic flow ranks high in the “to do” list of former presidential candidate Martin Dino who is expected to be appointed new chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

At yesterday’s Kapihan sa Annabel’s News Forum, Dino said a probe into alleged anomalous contracts entered into by former officials of the SBMA will also be part of the priority tasks of his administration.

Dino lamented that the SBMA’s container port has not been maximized by the previous administration to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

He said that the port is currently storing only about 123,000 containers when it can accommodate at least 600,000.

Dino, chairman of the anti-crime group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, agreed with the suggestion of the Japan International Cooperation Agency to relocate cargoes from Manila North Harbor to either the SBMA or the Batangas Port, depending on the destination of the cargoes.

“The transfer of the containers will be the first thing I will request from President Duterte if I am indeed appointed to the SBMA. He has already declared his support to the idea,” said Dino, who, in 2015, filed a certificate for candidacy for president but decided to withdraw later in favor of Duterte.

“I hope to start the transfer by October since we expect container arrivals at its peak immediately before the start of the Christmas season,” he explained.

Dino stressed that once implemented, government should expect the “P2 billion losses from Metro Manila traffic to be reversed soon.”

The anti-crime crusader also vowed to order the review of all contracts entered into by previous SBMA administrators who awarded contracts for locators and investors without implementing its provisions.

“Many investors, locators, and developers merely made money out of the contracts awarded them by duping their investors. Some decided to unilaterally rescind contract out of frustration from rampant graft committed by certain officials. We will have these investigated,” Dino said.

However, the next SBMA head was quick to clear incumbent Chairman Roberto Garcia, saying that it was Garcia who turned around business at Subic.

“From zero before his arrival, Garcia was able to hit P2 billion in profits for the SBMA,” he said.

Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his predecessor, former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., have strongly endorsed the modernization of the Subic Container Port as part of the government’s alternative solution to decongest vehicular traffic in Metro Manila.

The two top leaders of the House of Representatives other key members of the chamber in pursuing the Subic container option as Congress started its study of proposals for the grant of emergency powers to Duterte to address the traffic crisis. (Ben R. Rosario)