Ports continue to serve as an important component of trade and transport in the country, constantly contributing to the progress of the Philippine economy. Behind this progress is the hard work the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has been doing as the country’s port authority for more than four decades now.

With a gradually burgeoning port industry in the 1970’s composed of almost 600 national and municipal ports and 200 private ports, PPA was formed to address the foreseen need to create a separate agency which will oversee and regulate the industry, a function that was then performed jointly by the Bureau of Customs and the former Bureau of Public Works. In 1974, the PPA was created under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 505.

“Realizing that the establishment and operation of port authorities in other countries led to improved port operations, it was felt that the same benefits could be derived with a national port authority to administer and manage the country’s ports,” wrote PPA in its history published on its Web site.

Philippine Ports Authority (Sual, Pangasinan) seashore and port and pier beside the Sual Port — commons.wikimedia.org

The following year, PD No. 857 broadened the agency’s scope and functions “to facilitate the implementation of an integrated program for the planning, development, financing, operation, and maintenance of ports or port districts for the entire country.”

The agency’s charter was further enhanced in 1978 by Executive Order No. 513, granting PPA police authority within the ports it administers and providing it strengthened ties with the private sector through the formulation of the National Ports Advisory Council (NPAC).

As it marks its 45th anniversary this year, the PPA continues to reap significant outcomes in fulfilling its role of managing and advancing “a rationalized national port system in support of trade and national development”.

According to a statement released by the PPA last May, the agency earned a “record-breaking” P9.41 billion in dividends and taxes to the national government for 2018.

The PPA remitted P3.51 billion in dividends. It is currently the highest dividend record in its history as it surpassed 2017’s P3.1 billion dividend, which was then the highest recorded dividend in the last 30 years.

In terms of taxes, the PPA paid P5.9 billion, which is more than 50% of the total taxes it paid in the last 10 years.

Total revenues, meanwhile, exceeded 2018’s target by 8.13%, amounting to P17.49 billion. It is also higher by 14% than 2017’s total revenues.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago finds that PPA’s robust and stable performance will enable them to continue sustaining high-standard port services.

Fish Port Complex (Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, Sual, Pangasinan) — commons.wikimedia.org

“The streamlining of port processes coupled with strategic port development and modernization have greatly contributed to this strong performance as we aim for our operations to be on par with global standards,” Mr. Santiago said.

Port activities continue to be vibrant, with remarkable increases in PPA’s port statistics in 2018 found on its web site. Total ship calls totaled 468,439, an increase of 350.8% from 2017. Cargo throughput amounted to 260.95 million metric tons, higher by 368.3%; while container traffic marked 7.57 million twenty-food equivalent units, increasing by 370.4%. Passenger traffic amounted to 76.8 million, higher by 381.4%; and RoRo (roll-on, roll-off) traffic garnered 7 million, an increase of 420%.

In terms of projects, PPA has facilitated 168 commercial port projects from 2016 until the present, according to a statement by the Department of Transportation (DoTr), under which PPA is attached.

One of PPA’s projects that has recently materialized is the passenger terminal building (PTB) of the Port of Cagayan de Oro. According to a report from the Philippine News Agency, it is set to be inaugurated on July 15.

This new facility, which was completed last April, is presented as the biggest PTB in the country, with the capacity of accommodating 3,000 passengers daily and a total floor area of 5,597 square meters.

DoTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade commended the agency for “the immense work they have done in building and rehabilitating commercial seaports.”

“With the ease of movement of people and goods, economic growth is not far behind. This is the power of transport infrastructure. It can truly lead to a better, more comfortable life for Filipinos,” he added.

Mr. Santiago, meanwhile, said that the PPA is just in the middle of their journey as it aims to finish more projects in the years to come. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza