MARINA denies Guimaras’ appeal to extend operation of Wooden-Hulled Boats

The Maritime Industry Authority has denied the appeal of the Province of Guimaras to extend the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of the wooden-hulled boats plying the Guimaras-Iloilo route vice versa which has expired on December 31, 2020.

In a letter reply addressed to the Provincial Government of Guimaras, MARINA Administrator retired Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad stood firm on the decision of the agency to ceased the operation of the wooden motorbancas that cater passengers going in and outside the province.

“However, in as much as we would like to accommodate their requests, we regret to inform the good governor that we can no longer delay the implementation of the phase-out program for wooden-hulled passenger ships under MC 2016-02,” an excerpt from the letter of Empedrad to the Provincial Government of Guimaras.

The decision came after Governor Samuel T. Gumarin, MD, MPH and the officials of the Provincial Government of Guimaras appealed to MARINA and the Department of Transportation to hold forth the expiration of the CPC of the wooden-hulled motorbancas that is the main form of sea transportation for Guimarasnons going to neighboring provinces particularly Iloilo.

MARINA believed that the presence of limited number of fiber-glass and steel-hulled vessels can cater to thousands of passengers commuting daily to and from the island going to Iloilo City.

“On the apprehension that there will be shortage of boat service in the province, rest assured that MARINA will field/invite other boat operators to operate in the routes should it become necessary. It is however our opinion that with the presence of two Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) boats and two steel-hulled ships in the Buenavista, Guimaras – Iloilo route, the route is sufficiently served; and with the presence of two FRP boats, one steel-hulled ship and three Ro-Ro vessels in the Jordan, Guimaras – Iloilo route, the route can be considered as fully served,” added Empedrad.

The stoppage of operations of the wooden motorbancas has caused long queues of passengers at the wharves who are going to Iloilo City mainly for education and livelihood.

Meanwhile, around 400 sailors who were crews of the said motorbancas have lost their daily source of income after 91 wooden-hulled boats were phased out beginning January 1, 2021 despite the repeated plea of the Provincial Government of Guimaras and the motorbanca associations.

As early as September 15, 2020 the Provincial Goverment of Guimaras through the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) has passed a resolution urging the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Industry Authority to extend the Certificate of Public Convenience of the motorbanca associations in the Province of Guimaras.

On December 18, 2020 Governor Samuel T. Gumarin met with Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Region 6 Director Jose Venancio A. Vero to appeal for the extension of CPC of the wooden-hulled motorbancas plying the Guimaras-Iloilo route vice versa until the pumpboat associations in the province are able to procure additional modernized vessels to cater the volume of daily sea passengers.

The Provincial Government of Guimaras allocated financial assistance amounting to Php 3 million respectively for the Jordan Motorbanca Cooperative (JMBC) and the Buenavista Motorbanca Owners and Sailors Association (BAMOSA) for the procurement of additional modernized vessels.

Further, the Provincial Government of Guimaras wrote a letter to DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, MARINA Administrator retired Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad, MARINA Deputy Administrator for Operations Nanette Z. Villamor Dinopol dated December 18, 2020 to shed light on the impact of the suspension of operations of the wooden-hulled boats on the economy and the people of Guimaras.

On December 22, 2020 the Office of the 9th Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Vice Governor Atty. Joh Edward G. Gando passed a resolution urging the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Industry Authority to extend the Certificate of Public Convenience of the Motorbanca Associations.

A Certificate of Public Convenience is a franchise that grants permission to operate in certain public activities.

20210105 NEWS RELEASE #1

REF: INFORMATION SECTION-OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR