MORE THAN four years since the passage of the amended Cabotage Law, its impact on improving logistics and lowering shipping costs in Mindanao has yet to be felt. “I am not saying that the amended Cabotage Law is a failure, but we have to look at it why there is not much impact,” Antonio S. Peralta, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP)-Southern Mindanao Business Council chairman told media in a forum earlier this month. Republic Act 10668, which amended the Cabotage Law of the Philippines, was signed into law by then President Benigno S.C. Aquino III on July 21, 2015, and the implementing rules and regulation were completed in May 2016. The amendments were intended to lower logistics cost and ease restrictions by allowing foreign ships to transport cargo directly to and from any local port. “A serious review of the Cabotage Law must be made to make our businesses much more efficient, competitive not only locally but for the rest of the world… The cost of shipping from the point of origin is very low pero dito sa atin (but here it) is very high, do you think we have a chance of really competing? I don’t think so,” Mr. Peralta said.
He added that the business sector and government should be more proactive in inviting foreign shipping companies to serve ports outside the capital Manila. Meanwhile, representatives of local shipping companies are among those invited to the ECCP’s Business Conference on Logistics in the Visayas and Mindanao on Jan. 31 in Davao City. “I would also like to hear out from their side. What seems to be the problem, bakit hindi pa rin tayo efficient pagdating sa (Why haven’t we improved efficiency in) shipping. The purpose of the summit is to determine how far we have really gone,” Peralta said. The ECCP will compile the meeting’s output together with other information and present this to concerned government agencies for consideration. — Maya M. Padillo