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Tugade orders domestic shipping lines to provide cargo space vessels for produce, food

June 28, 2020 - Sunday 2:06 PM by MDM

Article Banner Image Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade states that information pertaining to government transactions shall be posted on the Freedom of Information online portal to ensure transparency. Joining Tugade in a press briefing in Malacañan on November 3 are Bases Conversion and Development Authority President Vince Dizon, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, and National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Ernesto Pernia. KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo

Following the government’s drive to provide food security for the people amid the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade issued on Wednesday a Department Order 2020-007 mandating domestic shipping lines to provide no less than 12 percent of their vessel’s cargo capacity per voyage for the exclusive accommodation of agricultural and food products, and to extend preferential shipping rates on agricultural and food products.

According to Secretary Tugade the DO is in line with the government’s action to contain the COVID-19 threat and to mitigate the pandemic’s adverse effects by mobilizing the necessary resources and taking the appropriate response measures.

“At this period when the danger of the pandemic is still very real, the people must be assured that the production and delivery of food and agricultural items will not be hampered or delayed. This is important as many parts of the country remain under quarantine measures where movement is restricted,” said Secretary Tugade.

“With this department order, our people will be assured of food supply, as each vessel being operated by a domestic shipping line will be carrying needed food and agricultural products to various destinations in the country,” Secretary Tugade added.

For his part, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez lauded the apt and timely response of DOTr, mentioning that the DO is crucial and complementary to the trade department's recently issued memorandum on the lifting of purchase limits on basic goods.

"From the very beginning, the stable supply and unhampered movement of all food and non-food cargoes has always been our priority. This is to prevent the unreasonable increase in the prices of goods, especially at this time of the pandemic when sources of income are limited," said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Meanwhile, according to Department of Agriculture spokesperson Noel Reyes, this move by the DOTr will greatly help consumers by easing up the tight supply of food necessities and stabilize their prices.

“Agriculture Secretary William Dar welcomes this favorable development, that puts into flesh the recommendation of the IATF Task Group on Food Security to maintain the unhampered movement of food products from the farms and fishing areas to major consumption centers, particularly in Metro Manila. These include products such as pork from Mindanao, where there is surplus, that should be shipped regularly to Luzon and Visayas and thus ease up the tight supply and stabilize prices for the benefit of consumers,” DA Asec. Reyes said.

Apart from allocating exclusive space for food and agricultural products, the DO likewise enjoins domestic shipping lines to extend a discount of no less than forty (40) percent from their published shipping rates for all agricultural and food products shipped on their vessels.

The DO notes, however, that domestic shipping companies are not prevented from extending a higher discounted shipping rate for agricultural and food products transported by their vessels.

Secretary Tugade has ordered the Maritime Industry Authority to issue the guidelines of the DO within 30 days of its effectivity. The Secretary also ordered the Philippine Ports Authority to ensure that domestic shipping companies comply with the department order, and to impose sanctions for non-compliance.