OVERALL operation of seaports was generally peaceful and organized during the Lenten break, with the number of travelers almost back to pre-pandemic level, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said on Tuesday.  

From April 2 to April 10, PPA recorded 1.63 million passengers, up 24% from 1.3 million in the same period last year and close to pre-pandemic traffic. 

“Right now, we are gradually recovering from the pandemic, thus, the number of our fellow Filipinos who traveled to go home this Holy Week has also increased,PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said in a press release.   

Within the nine days, PPA recorded the highest volume on the last day of the peak season at 253,154 passengers.  

It was followed by the second highest number of passengers recorded last Holy Wednesday with a total of 233,962 passengers,said PPA.  

PPA said it did not receive complaints similar to those during the Christmas season last year such as long queues and big crowds waiting outside terminals.  

“The only complaint we received is the non-functioning online booking system of the shipping lines at Batangas Port which we already coordinated with MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority), but so far, we can say that Holy Week 2023 has been smooth sailing at all ports,” Mr. Santiago said.   

PPA said the opening of its new ports in Masbate and Coron also supported the influx of passengers during the holidays.  

“The PPA likewise recently opened its new Port Operations Buildings at the Ports of Masbate and Coron in March 2023, in preparation for the expected influx of passengers come Holy week, which significantly helped in preventing congestion at ports this peak season,” it said.  

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) is aiming to complete another 20 seaport projects before June, Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said during a Palace briefing on Monday after meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.  

These ports are part of several aviation, road sector, and maritime projects that are targeted for completion before Mr. Marcos’ address to Congress in June.  

“We also reported ports that will be completed before June, around 20 of these,” Mr. Bautista said. “And, of course, road sector projects, which will include the construction of bike lanes and there are more projects for example in the rail sector.”    

He added that the DoTr plans to complete 18 airport maintenance projects also by June. Justine Irish D. Tabile and John Victor D. Ordoñez