• Alvarez, Belmonte back Subic port upgrade

    Alvarez said the proposal is a "good idea" that will not only benefit Metro Manila in terms of fewer cargo trucks crisscrossing it but will spur economic growth in the central and northern parts of Luzon as well. He said modernizing the Subic port and maximizing its use would definitely ease traffic congestion in the National Capital Region, which causes productivity losses of at least P2.4 million a day based on a recent study. He noted that the Subic port, which has an annual capacity of 600,000 containers, received only 123,000 containers last year. Alvarez's predecessor Belmonte also supported his colleague's proposal, describing it as a "great idea." Another Quezon City congressman, Alfred Vargas, said the suggestion, if adopted, would result in more economic activities in Subic and neighboring areas. "This means more jobs and more opportunities. These can hopefully translate to economic and social development in that part of the country," he said. "This plan, coupled with increased infrastructure spending particularly on interconnecting roads, alternative highways like C6 and bridges across the island of Luzon, will definitely solve a lot of urban management, environmental and economic issues," Vargas said. He noted that most imported cargoes enter the country though the port in Manila, where the flow of cargo trucks has to be carefully managed to lessen traffic jams. Several congressmen, including Rodolfo Albano 111 of Isabela and Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, suggested over the weekend the full use of Subic port where they said importers from the northern part of Metro Manila, and central and northern Luzon could unload their cargoes. This will greatly reduce the number of cargo trucks entering the National Capital Region to pick up or deliver imported goods, they said. They said the Manila port and its environs are among the highly congested areas in Metro Manila. For his part, deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said importers based in areas south of Metro Manila should use the Batangas City port. He said a large part of imported cargoes, equipment and raw materials that arrive at the Manila port is destined for manufacturing plants in the Calabarzon (CaviteLagunaBatangasRizalQuezon) region. These need not be unloaded at the Manila port and transported to their ultimate destinations through the National Capital Region, he said. He stressed that the cargoes could be unloaded in Batangas City, which is nearer to their destinations than if these would be transported from Manila. According to a recent Japan International Cooperation Agency study, the country loses billions in fuel cost and lost opportunities due to traffic congestion.