The MIMAROPA Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) Committee urged Oriental Mindoro to remove barriers on the passage of live pig cargoes. This was made during the Committee’s meeting presided over by its Chairperson and OIC Regional Director (RD) Susan A. Sumbeling of the NEDA Regional Office in MIMAROPA through Zoom video conference on August 25.
The Committee extensively discussed the issue on transport of live pig cargoes from Western Visayas. RD Sumbeling shared that Governor Humerlito A. Dolor of Oriental Mindoro issued Executive Order No. 230 as a protective measure to avoid the contamination of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the province. However, it effectively implemented a ban on the entry of live pigs from any place of origin since October 30, 2019, including those supposedly just passing through the SRNH in Oriental Mindoro and going to mainland Luzon.
Department of Agriculture (DA) MIMAROPA RD Antonio G. Gerundio said that he already requested Governor Dolor to allow the movement of live pigs, pork, and by-products from Western Visayas, an ASF-free region, to pass through the SRNH via Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, provided that necessary requirements such as negative laboratory test results for ASF, veterinary health certificate, and other clearances are presented.
DA MIMAROPA also presented the National Zoning And Movement (NZM) Plan for ASF that says MIMAROPA and all of the three Visayan regions are ASF-free. The said NZM Plan for ASF was contained in the Administrative Order No. 22 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on February 5, 2020.
Dr. Alfredo Manglicmot from the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Veterinary Office shared that they have already forwarded a set of recommendations to the Provincial Legal Office to come up with a win-win solution for this matter.
Meanwhile, RD Sumbeling proposed that small technical working group composed of the National Economic and Development Authority, Bureau of Animal Industry, Provincial Veterinary Office, Provincial Legal Office, and DA be created to sort out concerns. All members agreed to the proposal.
On the part of the shipping vessels, Mr. Nilo O. Nebreja, Commercial Operation Manager of Starlite Ferries, Inc., confirmed during the meeting that their vessels sailing the Caticlan – Roxas, Oriental Mindoro route does not carry livestock cargoes due to its enclosed car decks design that can suffocate the livestock. However, he shared that other shipping companies who have open deck vessels may take on the livestock cargoes provided the travel ban is sorted out.
Also discussed were shipping transportation concerns during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic wherein MARINA, Philippine Coast Guard, and Philippine Ports Authority reported their respective COVID-19 control measures.
Meanwhile, Sumbeling recalled how the SRNH came into being during the meeting. She shared that SRNH is a network of highway and vehicular ferry routes that form the backbone of the Philippines’ vehicle transport system. Opened to the public on April 12, 2003, SRNH has a total length of 919 kilometers through a system of roads and ports that connect the major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
She added that in 2017, the MIMAROPA Regional Development Council (RDC) passed RDC Resolution No. 2017-059-627, creating an inter-agency SRNH committee that serves as a forum for various agencies and stakeholders to discuss matters and concerns related to SRNH route linking the Visayas and Luzon. Since then, the SRNH Inter-Agency Committee has been meeting twice every year.
Before the meeting adjourned, everybody agreed to work for a win-win arrangement while safeguarding the interest of the regions concern.