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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Updates on BIMP-EAGA Transport Initiatives
06 October 2017 02:42:27 PM

The House committee on East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) chaired by Rep. Frederick Siao (Lone District, Iligan City) this week called for updates on the Zamboanga- Sandakan Air Connectivity, and the Davao/General Santos-Bitung Shipping Project.

“Launching of Cebu Pacific’s Zamboanga-Sandakan connectivity is set on October 29, 2017”, bared Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro. This operation shall be four times per week on a 72-seater capacity, added Montenegro.

“We’re confident that with support from the committee and our partner agencies, we will see the regularization or the regular operation of this flight and henceforth, offer opportunities for easier travel for people from Zamboanga, Sandakan and nearby areas”, Montenegro said.

“[However], we view the Zamboanga-Sandakan route to be an irregular connectivity”, Montenegro stated. Among the four East ASEAN countries consisting of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP), we are the only country that imposes a travel tax, according to the MinDa official.

“Magkano po ba ang fare and at the same time ilang oras po yung travel,” Siao inquired.

“The flight is about one hour and 30 minutes while promo fare for Zamboanga-Sandakan costs P1,299”, Montenegro responded.

“Magkano po bayung round trip? How much is the regular fare? Second, can you give us the estimate of airline expenses on this flight or cost per flight. Third, we want to know the cost and allowance to the Bureau of Immigration”, asked Siao.

“Estimated cost of one way trip is in the average of P1,800 to P2,500. The expenses have not been measured yet”, said Montenegro.

“We’re hoping you can collect all the information within the week so we can have another committee meeting this coming Monday.” Siao said.

In a position paper submitted by Sec. Datu HJ. AbulKhayr D. Alonto, MinDA Chairman and Philippine Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA, he stated that [the Zamboanga-Sandakan route] is a welcome development for increased trade and tourism between the two territories, taking note of the President’s directive to provide greater economic opportunities in Mindanao.

“As regards the Davao-General Santos-Bitung shipping service initiative, we wish to inform [the Special Committee on EAGA Affairs] that a meeting of the Joint Philippine-Indonesia Task Force was held last September 14, 2017 in Jakarta. In addition, a Business/Trade Mission to Jakarta and Manado was undertaken by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry on September 4-7, 2017”, wrote Alonto.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Fernando Perez made a powerpoint presentation about the launching of the Davao/General Santos City- Bitung Shipping Project.

Fernandez also told the committee about the meeting of the Joint Philippine-Indonesia Task Force.

“In your meeting, there’s an impression na mukhang di masyadong warm yung Indonesian. Were you able to convince business[people] in looking for possible trade?” queried Siao.

“I think we will be having a hard time in convincing the Indonesians to open up. In fact, I am part of the Davao Chamber, it is the same story”, said Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Abdulgani Macatoman.

“How can this special committee help the stakeholders? We might have another committee meeting next week, kase may deadline tayo for the updates”, said Siao. / RALO