By Denise A. Valdez, May 26 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Business World

THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) is looking to privatize the operations of several facilities in the remaining three years of the Duterte administration, starting with the passenger terminal building of the Port of Cagayan De Oro.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters last week he wants to separate the role of operator and regulator for agencies under the Transportation department, following the train crash at the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) on May 18, which is operated and regulated by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA).

Ako ayoko talaga yung regulator ay operator at the same time. Conceptually ayaw ko nun. You’re either operator or you are a regulator… Sinasabi ko, make up your mind. So doon papasok yung… kung ipaprivatize [I don’t want regulators to be operators at the same time. (Conceptually I don’t like it. You’re either an operator or you are a regulator… I’m saying make up your mind. That’s where the idea of privatization comes in),” he said.

Mr. Tugade said he will push for the privatization initiative before the Duterte administration ends, which is in three years. “Hindi mo naman tatargetin lahat ehAng importante, makaprivatize ka[You wouldn’t target privatizing everything. What’s important is you get to privatize some],” he said.

Asked for his priorities, Mr. Tugade mentioned the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), particularly the Port of Cagayan De Oro.

Yung isang puerto natin, pinaka-malaki ever, passenger terminal, yung sa Cagayan De Oro. Angcapacity noon, 3,000. Iinaugurate na namin yun bago end of the year [One of our ports has the biggest passenger terminal ever, the one in Cagayan De Oro. It will have a capacity of 3,000 passengers. We will inaugurate it before end of the year],” he said.

Mr. Tugade declined to provide more details on the privatization scheme, saying he will discuss it further in the DoTr Transport Talks with the media next month, which he noted will focus on the maritime sector.

He added the political will of President Rodrigo R. Duterte would be essential in pushing for privatization in the coming years. “Kung hindi kami, sino? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan? Eh meron kang pangulo na merong political will [If not us, who will? If not now, when? We have a president with political will],” he said.

Among the DoTr transportation assets that are already privatized are the LRT Line 1 for railways, which the Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) operates; the Mactan-Cebu International Airport for aviation, which GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) operates; and the Manila South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal for seaports, which Asian Terminals, Inc. and International Container Terminal Services, Inc. operate respectively. — Denise A. Valdez