Sunday Sep, 19 2021 09:39:00 AM

"Are we helpless against corruption, incompetence?"

Economic News • 09:00 AM Wed Mar 17, 2021
MinDA Sec. Emmanuel Piñol
Photos courtesy of netizen Dave Flores

Last month, while traveling down from Manila to Mindanao via the Maharlika Highway, I took a video of the long lines of trucks waiting for their turn to be accommodated in the ferry boats which would take them from Matnog, Sorsogon to at least three ports in Northern Samar.

The truckers, many of whom transport agricultural products from Mindanao to Metro Manila and important commodities from Luzon on the trip back, complained that they had to wait for at least 3 days before they could get a space in the ferry boats.

Not only is the waiting unbearable but worse is the corruption going on in the port where fixers could "facilitate" the prioritization of loading for a fee.

When I posted the video, I called on Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, whom I personally know as a No-Nonsense Guy who gets things done, to act on the complaints of the truckers and even ordinary travelers on cars.

For a while, there was relief according to feedbacks I received later.

These last few days, however, my FB Messenger has been receiving complaints again from truckers who even sent videos and pictures of the long lines of trucks extending from Matnog to as far back as 20 kilometers.

Now, I am posting some of these recently taken photos again because I am alarmed by the comments being made by netizens on the seeming helplessness of government in addressing this very simple problem.

The Samar-Sorsogon Portion of the Maharlika Highway served by ferry boats which carry trucks, buses and private vehicles is a critical part of the national food supply and trade line.

Any delay and disruption in this logistical facility would mean the scarcity of supply on both ends which in turn would result in higher prices of commodities.

What I cannot understand is how we could ignore and close our eyes to this brazen display of either incompetence or corruption.

Have we been used to seeing corruption unfold before our very eyes that we have become numbed and insensitive?

Elsewhere in the highways of the country, especially in Mindanao, the moment you see long lines of trucks and vehicles parked by the roadside and the drivers cooking their meals as if waiting for something, you could be sure that down the road there would be a team of policemen, LTO and even local traffic enforcers flagging down vehicles and checking out all kinds of infractions.

This happens often and yet we seem not to mind this at all.

In fact, the painful thing about this is just we laugh it off and just mutter: "Nandyan na naman ang mga buaya!"

The Matnog Port Problem is not an ordinary logistical issue.

Unless addressed soon, it could become a symbol of how severe corruption is in our country that we could not even handle a gang of thieves controlling the operations of a small port, milking money while making life difficult for the truckers and food more expensive for the consumers.

We in government must do something about this, now. Or else we do not deserve to stay one minute longer in our posts.

There is no intent on my part to dip my fingers into another agency's functions but the disruption in the supply chain caused by the Matnog Problem is affecting our farmers and fishermen from Mindanao.

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