Next DOTr chief has no idea about ground transportation problems

Heavy traffic is pictured along the Marcos Highway as motorists queue for a checkpoint on the first day of the Philippine capital’s re-enforcement of a stricter lockdown to curb coronavirus infections (COVID- 19), in Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines on August 4, 2020. New Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jimmy Bautista said he should speak to his predecessor about the problems in the land transportation sector, as he had “little idea”. REUTERS/Eloise Lopez

Former Philippine Airlines (PAL) Chairman and new Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jimmy Bautista said on Thursday June 23 that he should speak to outgoing Secretary Art Tugade as he has no idea of ​​the problems of the land transport sector.

He combines this with his experience working primarily in the aviation and marine industries, so he knows both of these industries better than ground transportation.

“I’ll have to talk to Secretary Tugade, because I don’t have much idea about the major land transport issues,” he said in a DZRH interview. “I know the problems of aviation, and some problems related to the navy, because I am currently the director of a maritime company, and I know the problems of maritime transport, I know the problems of airlines, but I will have may need more time to understand ground transportation issues.

However, knowing that a large number of people use public transport every day and seeing the long queues at stations, Bautista mentioned that he could focus on this aspect of the transport sector.

“Every day we have many passengers on jeeps, buses and trains. I can see before the pandemic that there are long lines in the LRT station. Maybe that’s where we can focus and study in depth how to improve the system,” he said in a mixture of English and Filipino.

He also mentioned that it is important that qualified people run the agencies under the transport authority.

“In fact, it is a good qualification to have training. This is important, because in order for you to implement the program[s] to improve operations, you need to understand the procedures, the ins and outs of the business,” he said. “It’s an important qualification that they know what they’re doing.”

To his credit, Bautista claimed that his experience working in the private sector can help public transport.

“From my experience as a private company executive, we look at processes, we look at procedures, to see where we can improve to make our passengers’ lives more comfortable. That’s what we prioritize,” he said.

The new transport secretary is optimistic that if the Philippines uses industry best practices, tourists are more likely to visit the country and goods will become more affordable.

“If we do that, I’m sure there will be even more incentive for tourists to visit the Philippines. Our freight cost would decrease, so the prices of the goods would also decrease. This [good industry practices] is what we can do not only in the air, but also at sea and on land,” said Bautista.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a journalist who focuses on Philippine politics. He defends the freedom of the press and regularly follows the evolution of the Philippine economy. The opinions expressed are his own.

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