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City Hall Against Pier Terminal Fee Hike
« on: June 03, 2007, 08:57:00 AM »
The city government has secured a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) last Monday denying the collection of P20 terminal fee by the Philippines Ports Authority (PPA) at the Tagbilaran wharf that was supposed to start yesterday.

Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 49 Executive Judge Fernando Fuentes III acted swiftly last Monday on the petition filed by City Mayor Dan Lim in behalf of the city government.

Starlight Marine and Industrial Services Corp. was supposed to collect an additional P8.75 terminal fee to the existing P11.25, which will accrue to the PPA for the recovery of costs on the newly-installed luggage X-Ray machine and passengers' Walk-through Detector.

City Hall's petition prayed for a preliminary injunction, temporary restraining order and ex-parte temporary order.

The ex-parte 72-hour TRO will expire tomorrow afternoon while the RTC has rescheduled the raffle of the petition for preliminary injunction today.

The special raffle was originally set at 11 o'clock this morning, however, the petition was assigned to Presiding Judge Achilles Melicor who is currently on leave.

Meanwhile, PPA-Manila is preparing to answer the city government's petition through the legal proceedings, Acting Tagbilaran Port Manager Rolly Gambuta told the Chronicle yesterday.

He said Starlight will have to hold in abeyance with the collection of the P20 per passenger fee while the TRO is in effect.

Gambuta was served a copy of the 72-hour order yesterday morning.

Mayor Lim, for his part, during an interview over dyRD's top-rated "Inyong Alagad" yesterday called the terminal fee increase "excessive" and will greatly prejudice the public.

The mayor noted that the Tagbilaran City Airport is collecting P20 when most of its passengers belong to high-income earners while most port passengers that will be affected with the hike belong to the low-income bracket.

The ex-parte 72-hour TRO was immediately issued by Judge Fuentes "considering the proximity of the time in the implementation (by PPA and Starlight) of the increased terminal fee and as the matter is of extreme urgency as to protect the petitioner (city government) as well as the riding public in general to suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury."

In its petition, the city government questioned the implementation of the increase despite the absence of a public consultation with stakeholders and the residents of Tagbilaran City.

Acting Manager Gambuta denied that there was no consultation conducted by PPA. He recalled that the late PPA Port Manager Raul Oblenda convened a public hearing at the Metro Centre Hotel regarding the proposed increase.

In fact, Vice Mayor Nuevas Montes represented the city during that public consultation sometime last year.

The proposed increase was even P22.50. However, PPA reduced it to P20, he said.
It may be recalled that the PPA installed the X-Ray machine and Walk-through Detector after a clamor for tighter security at the city wharf where passengers, mostly tourists, have increased.

According to PPA data, 60 to 70-percent of arrivals and departures at the Tagbilaran port are tourists.

The X-Ray machine and Walk-through Detector, installed inside the Starlight Terminal building, was purchased by the PPA for P7-million.

The P8.75 terminal fee will defray for its repair and maintenance, cost of operation, depreciation and a return-on-asset (ROA) of 10-percent of cost spread over the machines' estimated life span of ten years.

A computation presented by the PPA as basis of the terminal fee increase was also questioned by City Hall as well as the actual cost of the machines. (Kit Bagaipo, Bohol Chronicle 5/20/2007)

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