Lapid eyes ‘free’ transport of relief goods

January 27, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 192 views

To boost disaster response

SENATOR Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid filed a measure seeking “free” freight services for transporting relief goods in areas devastated by calamities, ensuring immediate disaster response to calamity-stricken areas.

Lapid filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1767, mandating common carriers, freight forwarders, and other similar entities to deliver goods and services “free of charge” to areas where they operate.

“Sa panahon ng sakuna at trahedya, wala tayong ibang aasahan kundi ang ating mga kababayan na busilak ang loob at wagas ang kabutihan. Sa ating panukalang batas na ito, nais natin na makatuwang ang ating mga kapatid sa industriya ng freight forwarding kung saan malaki ang kanilang gagampanan sa ating hangaring maghatid ng tulong sa ating mga kababayan sa panahon ng mga kalamidad,” he said.

In filing the measure, Lapid cited that the Philippines is one of the countries with the highest risk during natural calamities due to its location in the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and typhoon belt.

According to the senator, “it is crucial to make sure that those who have been severely impacted by the tragedy receive proper humanitarian aid and assistance at the soonest possible time.”

The proposed bill mandates the Law and Order Cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) shall provide security and traffic management assistance to the Response Cluster’s operations to facilitate the speedy movement of people, goods and equipment to the affected population and responding agencies.

SB No. 1767 likewise requires the Department of Transportation (DOTr), through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in coordination with the NDRRMC, to implement the provisions of the measure, monitor and oversee the compliance of freight service companies providing logistics services.

Lapid’s bill, “Free Transportation of Relief Goods Act,” cites that due to the archipelagic nature of the Philippines, shipping relief supplies typically entails high freight, arrester service, pilotage, and other port fees, particularly if inter-island crossing or long-distance land travel are required. These expenses, Lapid said, “are covered by relief and aid groups, but the money might have been used to buy more food and nonfood supplies to provide to catastrophe victims.

“With the help of officially accredited relief groups, this measure aims to formalize a system of offering free freight services for the transfer of aid supplies to disaster-stricken areas,” the bill’s explanatory note read.

It can be recalled that Lapid filed the same bill in the previous Congress, logged as SB No. 1151.