Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Wednesday urged authorities of Villamor Air Base and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to provide long-term payment period for a piece of land to be purchased by residents of Maricaban III and Barrio Putol in Pasay City.
Arroyo made the statement after visiting the area whose residents were among the beneficiaries of Presidential Proclamation 391 which was issued during her presidency.
“May be we can discuss the installment payment, that we may consider a longer payment scheme,” said Arroyo.
Arroyo said the extended installment payment is one of the solutions that should be looked into and which needs to be formalized in a hearing by the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development chaired by Rep. Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental.
“If the Air Force and the Airport [NAIA] are amenable to a long period of payment, that is good, we can already implement it,” said Arroyo. Villamor Air Base is the home of the Philippine Air Force.
Arroyo also said she continuously visits areas in Metro Manila to personally know the sentiment of the urban poor who dream of having their own permanent land through her proclamation.
She said the primary purpose of her proclamation is to have an assurance that beneficiaries of the land will not be relocated.
Arroyo was warmly received by Rep. Emi Calixto-Rubiano of Pasay City and local officials led by Pasay City Mayor Tony Calixto and barangay officials and officers of housing agencies.
As this developed, Arroyo also asked the Philippine Ports Authority to waive weighbridge fees in an effort to lower the cost of goods, including food stuff transported aboard ships.
Arroyo made the proposal during an oversight meeting of the House Committee on Transportation in Hilongos, Leyte on Tuesday, with Leyte Rep. Yedda Romualdez in attendance. The panel was convened continuance for the House Committee on Transportation’s discussion on the nautical highway and particularly the exorbitant shipping cost of goods through the Roll-On Roll-Off (RO-RO) system.
Arroyo said that weighbridge fees should be done away with to ease the costs faced by truckers and farmers, particularly those transporting agricultural goods through the Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) system from Mindanao to Luzon. As a result, the agricultural goods have become almost prohibitively expensive by the time they enter the Luzon market.
“It’s an additional cost to the industry. So we have a resolution here that since it’s a PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) function, they should not charge that function. Because there are five charges that they can make and weighing charges are not part of it,” she said. “They will continue to weigh, but they cannot charge.”
Arroyo also allayed fears that PPA collections will suffer due to her proposal and maintained that it was an implementable measure.
Arroyo’s proposal stemmed from findings of the oversight committee that the land travel portion of moving products has had the most significant impact on the cost of goods.
“When they compare the price of conventional and RO-RO, it’s okay for a 10-wheeler. It’s cheaper. But when you come to 20 and 40, RO-RO becomes more expensive because of the land portion of the travel. So the truckers have to unbundle the cost in the land. That will be the work of the TWG (technical working group) of Congressman Manny Zubiri,” Arroyo said.
The panel also learned that the high cost of commissioning reefer vans is prohibitive to small farmers. As such, the committee identified compartmentable reefer vans that so that products of multiple small farmers can be consolidated and the cost become more manageable.