Next DOTr chief has little idea on land transport woes

·3 min read
Heavy traffic is pictured along Marcos Highway, as motorists queue for a checkpoint on the first day of the Philippine capital's reimplementation of a stricter lockdown to curb coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez DOTr
Heavy traffic is pictured along Marcos Highway, as motorists queue for a checkpoint on the first day of the Philippine capital's reimplementation of a stricter lockdown to curb coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 4, 2020. Incoming Department of Transportation (DOTr) secretary Jimmy Bautista said he would have to talk to his predecessor about problems in the land transportation sector because he has "little idea" about them. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Former Philippine Airlines (PAL) president and incoming Department of Transportation (DOTr) secretary Jimmy Bautista said on Thursday (June 23) that he would have to talk to outgoing Secretary Art Tugade, for he has little idea about problems in the land transportation sector.

He associates this with his experience of primarily working in the aviation and marine sectors, hence he is more knowledgeable about these two than land transportation.

“I'll have to talk to Secretary Tugade, because I don't have much idea about the major problems of the land transport,” he said in a DZRH interview. “I know the issues of the aviation, and some issues about marine, because right now I am a Director of a shipping company, and I know the problems in shipping, I know the problems in airlines, but I may need some more time to understand the issues of the land transport.”

However, knowing that large numbers of people taking public transportation every day, and seeing the long lines in train stations, Bautista mentioned that he may focus on that aspect of the transportation sector.

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

He also mentioned that it is important for qualified individuals to run the agencies under the transportation agency.

“Actually, it’s a good qualification to have a background. That is important, because for you to be able to implement program[s] to improve operations, you have to understand the procedures, ins-and-out of the business,” he said. “It’s an important qualification that they know what they are doing.”

To his credit, Bautista claimed that his experience of working in the private sector may help public transportation.

“In my experience of being an executive of a private company, we look at processes, we look at procedures, so that we can see where we can improve in making the lives of our passengers more comfortable. That’s what we are prioritizing on,” he said.

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

“If we do that, I’m sure that tourists will be even more enticed to visit the Philippines. Our cost of cargo would decrease, so the prices of goods will decrease as well. That [good industry practices] is what we can do not just in air, but in sea and land,” Bautista said.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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