Tugade wants to give Duterte crony Dennis Uy incentives to revive the Davao-Manila shipping route
Transportation Secretary Art Tugade is planning to give incentives to Chelsea Logistics to revive the Davao-Manila route as desired by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Tugade revealed that he was in talks with Chelsea, owned by Duterte crony Dennis Uy, to bring back the route by December this year and the grant of incentives would make sure Duterte’s wishes to give poor Filipinos an cheaper and more hospitable alternative to pricey and snooty airlines.
“Nung lalagyan ho natin ng insentiba ‘yan o mga kuwan, baka matuloy ho ‘yung rutang diretso, Davao-Manila. But I will explore that with them, Mr. President,” said Tugade in a disaster briefing in Ilocos Norte last Sunday.
Duterte backed the grant of fiscal perks just to bring to reality his dream of a Davao-Manila route.
“If there’s a need for me to reassure them, or if I can give something like an incentive to the vessel owners, you might want to schedule a meeting with them,” said Duterte.
In reply, Tugade said: “Sundin ko po ‘yon — susundin ko ho ‘yung sinabi niyo, Mr. President. In fact, kaya ho napasok ‘yung ruta na Batangas kasi nga to add profitability to the route. Ang sinasabi ho nila ‘pag direct na Davao-Manila, baka kapos.”
Tugde aid his talks with Chelsea had been ongoing since October last year.
“Doon ho dun sa Davao-Manila run. Napangako ko ho noon ng mga Oktubre, magsa-sale na ho, meron hong isang kumpanya, Chelsea Shipping. Inaayos na ho namin. Nag-bog down lang sila dun sa pagbili nung vessel na dapat ma-i-operate dito sa Davao-Batangas-Manila run. Bago ho mag-Pasko, sana ‘yan ang ultimate, ultimate cap ko, ‘yung Davao-Manila run with Batangas will be in place,” he added.
The bulk of Chelsea’s fleet is made up of six vessels acquired from Starlite Ferries owned by Energy Secretary Al Cusi.
Tugade was defensive during the briefing as he went out of his way to point out that the Davao-Manila route disappeared way before he was appointed in July 2016. “Sabihin ko lang po kung mararapatin, nawala ho ‘yung ruta ng Davao-Manila hindi ho sa termino natin. Noong mga nakaraang administrasyon ho ‘yan, dulot nung tinatawag na ‘yung mga aksidente sa mga kuwan noon, mga lubog-lubog. Nawala ho ‘yan. Kaya tayo ho, sa administrasyon po natin, sir, ibinabalik natin ‘yan. At meron na hong kaming kausap na shipping company na willing naman mag-ambag para ‘yang ruta na ‘yan ay mabuhay ulit. Ito pong taon na ‘yan, sir,” said Tugade.
Duterte said he was sad that the Davao-Manila route was discontinued because poor Filipinos could not afford to travel by plane and were discouraged from bringing “pasalubong” such as live chicken, food delicacies and fruits during their trips to Manila
“Medyo malungkot lang ako bakit ganoon. There’s something there that is not for the people. And there’s something wrong there. Ang airlines kumikita ‘yan. Eh they have to go to GenSan. But for the small Filipino, there’s something terribly missing there. So we have to correct that. I have to insist on correcting it because it is not good. It is not working to — for the benefit of the people,” said Duterte.