MANILA (Mabuhay) – Accusations hurled by the business community that the government lacked foresight in the worsening congestion now gripping the ports of Manila are simply “unfair” as the Aquino administration merely inherited the problem from the neglect exercised by administrations.
This was how Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras on Thursday defended the government from the business community during the Senate committee hearing.
The mess in the Manila seaports started in the past administrations, Almendras, who heads the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion, told the panel on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship.
“Some chambers of commerce said there was no foresight but, in reality, there was. It’s just that we’re restraint by actions in the past administrations that really just put it aside,” he said.
“It is an unfair accusation that there’s no foresight. There’s a lot of foresight. The realities of political considerations, at that time, play the role,” he added.
On Wednesday, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) senior adviser John Forbes said government should not only expedite decongestion efforts but also work on improving logistics in the long term.
Last August, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. told GMA News Online the problem now hounding the cargo gateways is actually rooted in lack of planning and foresight to accommodate the economic boom happening over the past 10 years.
Almendras said the Aquino administration is, in fact, doing its best to fix the mess.
“This administration is trying to clean up on that, but of course, we have to abide by certain legal constraints also,” he said.
“That’s why we’re starting to talk about the future, the mid-term and long term options,” he noted. (MNS)