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Killed by greedy airlines: Duterte bemoans death of Davao-Manila shipping route as one of PH’s biggest tragedies

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President Rodrigo Duterte has called the death of the poor man’s shipping routes, specifically from Davao to Manila, as one of the country’s biggest tragedies brought about by predatory pricing of the airline industry led by Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines and John Gokongwei’s Cebu Pacific.

In a briefing Sunday night, Duterte said he empathized with his poor town mates from Mindanao who have lost their preferred means of travel and left with no alternative but to pay the sky-high fares of airlines.

“Alam mo, one tragic development in this country was really the absence of vessels sa sea, barko, that used to travel from the provinces to Manila. Alam mo ang Davao nawalaan ‘yan and so everybody has to take, walang choice eh, eroplano…Dito sa eroplano, alam mo na mga pobre. They are even afraid to touch there anything. Hindi naman sanay sa eroplano ‘yun. So that is one of my misgivings going on sa present, ” said Duterte.

“Irrespective of the economic level. Ang problema kasi dito sa barko is ang mga probinsyano kasi, ito ‘yung kay (Transportation Secretary Art Tugade)na ‘to eh.‘Yung probinsyano kasi, Art, magpunta ng Maynila may mga baon ‘yan sila. Baon ng bigas, mga itlog for their relatives, o anok. Meron silang baon na para doon sa pupuntahan nila or might really be the consumption of the period that they would be in Manila to work on something. Ang masakit diyan is wala na ‘yan and they are forced to take the plane and they have to pay for the excess baggage. Wala na ‘yan, hindi sila makadala ng saging, hindi sila makadala ng — the usual culture of the Filipinos na meron talagang madala and even the consumption of rice while they are there,” he added.

Duterte hoped that a business group should move to revive the shipping routes, specifically the Davapo-to-Manila line.

“So kung merong interesado na ano — let them in. Maski ano, basta — maski pareho ang ano, pero may madala ang tao,” said Duterte.

“Kasi dito kita mo ang hirap ng taga-Davao, pati dito na sa Eastern Mindanao, lower. They have to go to GenSan. So it cuts across Davao del Sur down to South Cotabato. Doon pa sila magsakay. So imagine the effort and the time, ‘yung labor nila to be transferring one place to another. Eh sa mga barko naman, they are allowed a certain number of… kung maibalik lang sana ‘yun kasi hirap ang mga tao dito sa Mindanao,” he added.

Energy Secretary Al Cusi concurred with Duterte’s plan to revive the Davao-Manila shipping route.

Cusi blamed the airlines and their predatory pricing for killing the shipping routes and their oppressive excess baggage rules.

“Tama po ‘yung project ninyo (Duterte) na ibalik po ang biyahe ng barko, Davao-Mindanao to Manila. Nawala po ‘yan kasi po nung pumasok po itong low-cost carrier na bumaba po ‘yung presyo ng eroplano. Noong bumaba po — dahil nilalabanan po nila ‘yungsa shipping, hindi po naka-kuwan itong shipping, hindi naka-sustain. But that was the time na bumaba naman po ‘yung airline rates,” said Cusi.

After driving out the competition with their cutthroat prices, Cusi said the airlines – PAL and Cebu Pacific are lead partners in the super consortium bidding to control the Ninoy Aquino International Airport – started to jack up prices to the detriment of poor passengers who could not afford to pay for airline tickets.

“Ngayon nawala po itong shipping na ito, ‘yung rates naman po ng airline ang tumataas. So tamang-tama po, kung maibabalik ninyo ‘yan, mapipilitan na rin po kayo na ibaba ‘yung presyo ng sa airlines,” said Cusi.

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