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Proposal to Build 200 Seaports to Connect Remote Islands in the Philippines

By 2028, there are plans to build 200 more seaports in the Philippines, valued at an estimated P12.5 billion. By improving communication, this project hopes to increase the economic potential and disaster resistance of isolated islands.

During a news event in Pasay on Wednesday, Elmer Sarmiento, the Transportation Undersecretary for the maritime sector, revealed this development. The purpose of these new seaports is to serve the demands of roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) and fishing boats, with an emphasis on their role in supporting farm-to-market and social tourism.

Sarmiento emphasized the value of linking isolated islands to more developed economies, using the Turtle Islands in the Tawi-Tawi province as an illustration. These seaports are essential for disaster response during typhoons and other calamities, in addition to promoting economic growth, considering the Philippines’ susceptibility to natural disasters.

The development of these seaports is considered crucial for both economic and safety reasons, given the nation’s vulnerability to typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

To get these initiatives off the ground, the Department of Budget and Management is being actively approached by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for money. Sarmiento added that since 2015, the DOTr has effectively finished 250 port projects, which is in line with the objective of building a strong Philippine merchant fleet to meet the needs of the archipelago’s maritime transportation.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced intentions to construct and develop 14 roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) ports at approximately P100 million apiece, in addition to the 200 planned seaports. These ports, which improve inter-island communication and trade, are situated in Mindanao, Central Visayas, Northern Luzon, and Eastern Luzon.

Passenger traffic at sea terminals increased significantly in 2023, up 24% from the previous year to 73.61 million, according to the Philippine Ports Authority. This number, however, is still lower than the 83.72 million travelers recorded in 2019 prior to the epidemic. In 2023, cargo throughput surpassed the volume prior to the pandemic, increasing by almost 5% to 271.97 million metric tons.

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