ORION, Bataan — Top officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) thanked Bataan Gov. Abet S. Garcia for helping facilitate the one-stop-shop quarantine facility for returning Filipino seafarers in Port Capinpin.
PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago also cited a Bataan contractor for fast-tracking the construction of the facility and thanked the municipal government, as well as the private sector donor, for helping realize the project.
“Kung wala sila governor, hindi matutuloy itong proyektong ito,” said Santiago.
Garcia and Congressman Joet S. Garcia also thanked the DOTr and PPA officials for setting up the modern quarantine facility in Bataan.
Port Management Office Bataan/Aurora Manager Allan Rojo said the construction of the facility is in line with their continuing commitment to provide safe and prompt delivery of quality public services.
“This is also in consonance with the government effort to prevent, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19. The facility was made with utmost regard to the safety of our Filipino seafarers in mind and complements the one-stop shop of Port Capinpin, which aims to create a green lane for the safe, swift, and convenient disembarkation of our fellow Filipino seafarers,” Rojo said.
He also assured that the facility will be able to facilitate crew change activities to better address the pandemic, while maintaining a safe environment for the seafarers, port personnel, and nearby communities.
“This facility is part of the P100 million donation of the Lopez Group of Companies to Department of Transportation (DOTr) and PPA, to help us combat the pandemic. We are proud that their donation did not go to waste and was used in a good way. And I am also proud that a native Bataeño made this facility,” said PPA General Manager Santiago.
Gov. Albert Raymond Garcia said this is significant in order to balance the health and safety of seafarers with the opening of the economy.
“We know that that the world economy is primarily driven by the maritime sector, mainly because of shipping and logistics. This activity is very important to ensure smooth crew change to ensure that our seafarers can safely come home to their families. At the same time, those who had already spent time with their families and are ready to work again can be sent-off or embarked,” Garcia said.
This was affirmed by Eep. (2nd district) Jose Enrique Garcia III, who said there is a need to work together to gradually help our economy open up.
“This project is very important because here we can see how the national and local government, as well as the private sector, work together to think and create a way to continue the livelihood of the people in the midst of the pandemic,” Garcia said.
Maritime Industry Authority Vice-Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr. said the opening of Port Capinpin, Subic, and eventually Cebu will help seafarers get home and work again, but it must be in accordance with strict health and safety protocol.
“Its objective is to repatriate our stranded seafarers who had been experiencing fatigue and stress physically and mentally because of long stay aboard ship beyond their contract. Right now, building a crew change hub here is a big thing to help our countrymen,” Vingzon said.
He added that creating a crew change hub is not easy because of the need to constantly harmonize national and local guidelines for seamless implementation of protocols.
The new quarantine facility in Port Capinpin is managed and operated by the PPA. It has an area of about 1,271.6 square meters with a 124-bed capacity including 25 cubicles intended for high-risk cases separated by a nursing station.
Construction started last September 23 and was completed on October 7.
On September 5, the DOTr Maritime Sector conducted the first crew change activity outside Metro Manila at Port Capinpin.
From September 1 to October 6, the one-stop-shop facilitated the seafarers’ requirements for crew change operations. During that period, it has served a total of 27 vessels with 564 Filipino seafarers and 20 foreign nationals.