CALAPAN CITY—Passengers, on a halloween vacation going to their respective island provinces, have complained of rampant and even unabated abuses committed by some shipping lines, port and even arrastre workers taking advantage of passengers stranded in the Batangas City port.
Hundreds of passengers bound for the two Mindoro, Romblon and Panay Island provinces are now stranded in the Batangas City Port due to shortage of roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) and fast ferry vessels to bring them to their destinations.
Those passengers who could not avail themselves of the terminal building are staying in crowded tents. Most of them have to wait for hours or a full day to avail themselves of trips.
The commuters’ complaint range from poor port service, unseaworthiness of vessels plying the route, rampant overpricing of tickets, and discourteous and rude port and arrastre workers.
They also complained of overloading, cancellation and delayed trips of ro-ro and fast ferry vessels, extortlion and even mismanagement of the whole complex of the Batangas International Port.
Also being complained about is the sale of overpriced tickets by persons who claimed to be employees of shipping lines operating in the busy Batangas City port.
Tickets being legally sold in ordinary days by shipping lines operating roll-on-roll-off vessels between P145 and P180 per passengers now cost at P350 each.
He said the ro-ro vessel left Batangas port at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and arrived Calapan City past 9 in the evening. “Many of the passengers were standing for the whole trip of more than two hours. I think it was overloaded,” Viana told The Standard.
Viana showed this newsman his ticket he bought from the fixer with “P192 regular fare” printed on it. He bought two tickets for P700 at P350 each for himself and his companion. The ticket was overpriced by P158 each.
Mrs. Nanette Geronimo, a Calapan City government emloyee, also shared her “bad experience with arrogant and discourteous” port workers of Asian Terminals, Inc., who denied them entry, despite a reservation, into the passenger terminal building.
“Despite our pleadings to enter the port terminal. In a loud voice, he told us we cannot enter because the terminal building is already full of passengers. The worse is, we cannot identify these ATI arrastre workers as they wore no hanging IDs nor nameplates.”
One of the ATI staff raised his voice that interrupted her conversation with Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, Jr. over a mobile phone. “I called up Gov. Umali to bring the complaint of mistreatment of passengers to him when one of them interrupted us with a loud voice,” Geronimo said.
On Thursday, a Supercat 2Go fast ferry irked more than 200 Calapan City-bound passengers, including this newsman, for sudden cancellation of its already delayed trip.
After two delays for more than one hour, the trip was cancelled without giving any reason why. We later learned that the engines of the same Supercat conked out at midsea off Matuko Point near the Verde Island Passage on its way to Batangas City port.
The Supercat ferry was also allowed to make another trip despite its mechanical problems. For several days, the vessel’s seaworthiness came under question after successive cancellations of its scheduled trips.
The Batangas International Port serves arriving and departing foreign cargo vessels in addition to passenger vessels operating in Romblon, Abra de Ilog, in Occidental Mindoro; Boracay and Caticlan, in Aklan; and Calapan City and Puerto Galera, in Oriental Mindoro, ports.