Illegal Dipolog port is new smuggling gateway
The local government-run shipping port here is operating without the authorization from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
Engr. Salvador Delina, Dapitan City port manager, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency Wednesday, saying that the “holdover authority (HOA)” given to the locally-run port located in Barangay Galas, this city, expired in March, this year.
Delina said they aweee still waiting for the issuance of another HOA from the PPA central office for the city-managed port, whose operations have been questioned in the past for reportedly lacking adequate security and other support systems.
The port serves a lone passenger-cargo Roll-on, Roll-off (RoRo) ship from Cebu City plying a daily route to Cebu.
For his part, Zamboanga del Norte (1st District) Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos on Sunday (May 20) said the port should be closed immediately, pointing out that it does not have the presence of vital government agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Group of the Philippine National Police, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“How can we effectively protect our province’s coast from drug or human trafficking and even terrorism when there is an unsecured port operating illegally under our noses,” asked the visibly irked lawmaker, pointing to the inability of government agencies to discharge their respective mandates.
Delina said the city-run port started as a fish landing area where fishing “bancas” were anchored. Later, the city government under then Mayor Roseller Barinaga erected a structure to transform it into a functioning port.
Barinaga admitted that the initial idea was for the Dipolog port “to accommodate smaller sea vessels that cannot dock in the Port of Dapitan,” which is barely 12 kilometers away.
“But everything has changed now,” he conceded, referring to the port’s expansion.
Delina said that in 2007, the Dipolog City government signified its intention to establish the “Galas Port.” It was only in 2007 that the PPA and the local government signed a three-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the operation of port here.
“But there was no ship serving the port in Dipolog until 2015,” Delina said, “and since the MOA expired in 2010 and the processing of another MOA is still going on, we have just to issue a yearly holdover authority subject to the approval of PPA head office.”
Jalosjos maintained that illicit trade would flourish if the port continued to operate without government scrutiny.
“I am receiving reports that pebbles, illegally cut logs, drugs and God knows what else are passing through that port! If there are no officials that are willing to stop it, I cannot in my conscience just stand by and do nothing,” he added. (PNA)