There’s a popular adage which underscores the importance of working silently. It says that if you work hard in silence, success will be your noise.
This beautiful concept reminds me of a silent yet hardworking arm of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), which, amid the cacophony of squawks and noise from critics, was able to deliver numerous achievements by bolstering the capability of Philippine sea linkages, enhancing mobility and connectivity across the Philippine archipelago, while safeguarding the welfare of the people.
I am talking about the DoTr Maritime Sector.
It is always easy to associate the DoTr with railways, road transport and aviation. However, not a lot of people know that the Transportation Department also includes maritime transportation and security. Perhaps, this is high time that we place the spotlight on this silent worker of the government, which has been performing exceptionally well.
The DoTr, under the leadership of Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, has been pouring so much investments in developing the country’s seaports, in support of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program. This strong desire of the country’s Transportation chief to connect the islands of the Philippines as one is coupled by the stellar headship of Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago. Thus, since 2016, the DoTr and the PPA have already completed 424 seaport projects, working on 106 others, and are set to start work on 69 more port projects soon.
The completed seaport projects include the country’s biggest port passenger terminal building (PTB) to date, which is situated at the Cagayan de Oro Port in Misamis Oriental.
In 2020, the DoTr and PPA were likewise able to virtually inaugurate 14 port projects despite the enforcement of strict community quarantine due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
Moreover, this March 2021, we will also witness the inauguration of the newly-completed development project at the Port of Dumaguete. With this development, the port now has a new Port Operations Building (POB), which will answer the need for proper monitoring of vessel arrivals and departures. The POB is likewise expected to provide a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building for passengers bound for nearby islands like Siquijor, Cebu and Bohol.
Apart from infrastructure projects, the DoTr Maritime Sector also excels in emergency and disaster responses through the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), under the outstanding leadership of PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr.
Aside from enforcing laws at sea, managing the country’s vast maritime resources, and safeguarding national interests, the PCG’s role has also evolved significantly.
When Covid-19 struck, the PCG has been put in a position to perform new tasks and fill in the gaps. PCG personnel became frontliners in guarding the shores, serve as quarantine officers, logistical carriers and emergency responders.
During calamities, the PCG is always at the forefront of rescue and evacuation operations to help those in need. Its work also doesn’t end there, for Coast Guard personnel are likewise deployed to calamity-stricken areas for relief operations.
To ensure the safety, health, welfare and employment of Filipino seafarers amid the pandemic, the DoTr Maritime sector has facilitated the establishment of crew change hubs in the different parts of the country, such as in Manila, Bataan, Subic and Cebu.
Now, the Philippines continues to strengthen its commitment to become a major international crew change hub. This initiative is also complemented with the establishment of quarantine facilities to cater to the needs of our Filipino seafarers, as well as PCG frontliners.
Lastly, to further promote maritime security, the DoTr Maritime Sector, through the PCG, was able to put into operation a total of 546 lighthouses across the country as of January 2021.
And there is no stopping the PCG and the PPA in the silent performance of their remarkable duties.
With less than a year before the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte comes to an end, the Filipino people can rest assured that your Department of Transportation, like the PPA and the PCG, will be consistent and efficient in the delivery of services for the comfort and convenience of all.