Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Friday pushed for the revival and expansion of the Roll-On-Roll-Off transport system, a project she spearheaded when she was President.
Arroyo made the statement during her visit here to attend the 11th anniversary of the Bacolod Silay airport, which was built and inaugurated during her administration in 2007.
She narrated that she was sad a few years ago when she heard that many of the RORO projects were canceled or discontinued.
“We built many RORO ports all over the country but mostly in the Visayas and I was so sad to hear a few years ago that the administration after mine discontinued the rest of the RORO port projects,” Arroyo said.
Noting the RORO system’s proven importance in travel and trade and tourism, Arroyo said she will convene an Oversight Committee in the House of Representatives on the RORO to determine the status of the country’s ports and how to improve them.
“When I go back to Manila, I am going to convene the oversight committee for the RORO because with the help of the PPA [Philippine Ports Authority]and the DOTR [Department o Transportation] to compare the old ADB [Asian Development Bank] study with what are the the projects that had been canceled and see what should be revived,” Arroyo said.
In 2003, Arroyo who was then President ordered the establishment of the nautical highway that is envisioned to link all major islands through ports with roll-on roll-off capability.
The Road RoRo Transport System is a project designed to carry rolling stock cargo that does not require cranes for loading. The system was part of the 919-kilometer Strong Republic Nautical Highway that connected the major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao through an integrated network of highway and vehicular ferry routes.
It was one of her administration’s priority programs to ensure fast and economical movement of goods and people, and to boost domestic tourism and trade.
The Asian Development Bank which had proposed the project had said the RORO system cut the cost of the transport system and travel time in the Philippines.
Arroyo noted that the RORO system has helped lower the poverty level in the country. “When I assumed the Presidency, the survey said 39 percent of all Filipinos were very poor. I believe that the RRTS has helped a lot to lift up some of the very poor from extreme poverty, as they were able to find jobs and now have some money to buy food and other necessities,” she said.
Her administration was able to construct vital RORO routes from Luzon to Mindanao. However, the Aquino administration canceled most of the RORO projects approved during her time.
The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte had decided to revitalize the RORO system citing it importance to trade and tourism.
Arroyo said she was happy that the RORO system is being revitalized because of the positive impact it has given on the lives of the people.
After the event in Silay, Speaker Arroyo took a RORO ferry to Dumangas, Iloilo to experience once again the RRTS and see what can be done to improve the system. Arriving in Dumangas, Speaker Arroyo attended a briefing by the Civil Aearonatics Authority of the Philippines, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Port Authority, Philippine Coast Guard and Departmenr of Public Works and Highway on the status of the RORO ports in the city.
Arroyo also conducted an ocular inspection of the road networks connecting the RORO system to determine their condition and what still needs to be done to improve the system.
Arroyo said in the remaining months of her term in the Lower House, she will take on a sentimental journey to her favorite projects, which include the airports and RORO ports she built during her administration.
“You know I’m going to leave public office on June 30 and I was telling my staff that I want to make a sentimental journey to my favorite projects and among them in the Bacolod- Silay airport and so I decided to come,” she said.
She added, “(f)rom Silay airport I will take a sentimental journey to the RORO because to me the Visayas the important infrastructure are the roads, airport and RORO.”
The RORO system has three routes: the Strong Republic Nautical Highway, Eastern Nautical Highway and Central Nautical Highway. These cover the provinces and cities of Tagaytay and Batangas City of Region 4-A, Marinduque, Romblon and Oriental Mindoro in Luzon. Also covered are Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Cebu, and Bohol in the Visayas. There is also a route from Luzon going to Palawan.
Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao are also part of the route.