The Future Epicenter of Trade in Southeast Asia
A major anchor of the Pacific Coast City is the development of the Dingalan Bay seaport. This is projected as the Port City. The port is a potential national flagship project that will transform the Philippines from a mere trade and consumer goods to a transshipment center, rivaling the world ports destination of Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
If there is population congestion in Manila, there is also port congestion. The Port of Manila serves as the primary (and almost only) international gateway to the Philippines. Since 1987, the traffic growth in the Port of Manila has been uncomfortably high. To address this concern, the Batangas Port Development Project, Phase I, was developed. When Phase II (providing for deep water container and break bulk cargo handling) of the Batangas Port becomes operational in 2002-2003, the traffic that would have been generated by the rapidly expanding CALABARZON (Cavite – Laguna – Batangas – Rizal – Quezon) development would already take up much of its capacity. Of course, there is Subic Bay that caters to international cargo as well. But both Batangas and Subic Bay Ports face the China Sea. Thus the opportunity to develop other international ports beckons.
At present the Philippines does not have an international port facing the Pacific Ocean because there is little cargo to ship to and from the Pacific Coast and the rest of Luzon. Why? The eastern seaboard of the islands facing the Pacific are sparsely populated due to the rugged terrain (especially in the island s of Luzon and Samar) its relative isolation and therefore, a lack of transport facilities, particularly roads.
Deemed to be technically and physically a good location, the Port City in Dingalan will spur the development of Nueva Ecija and Tarlac and the roads that will connect to Dingalan, the most important of which is the Cabanatuan-Palayan-Dingalan highway.
Moreover, the strategic advantage of a port in Dingalan is that vessels from northeast Asia (Japan, the North and South Koreas, Taiwan and Russia) going to and from Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea can have a Philippine way point without calling at Manila. Shipment of goods to and from the United States and Canada can likewise be facilitated with this development especially if a strategic alliance can be developed with one or two North American ports. The business opportunities here are simply staggering.
As international gateway to the Philippines, the Port City of Dingalan will become a Free Trade Zone, facilitating enter port trade, promoting transshipment cargo handling, and bringing in massive investments into the region. The necessary transport, communications and utilities infrastructure will certainly be put in place, the cost of which is justified by the volume of jobs and income-generating activities that shall ensue.
This new Port City assumes greater significance in the light of developments of the Spratlys Island, in our country’s dispute with mainland China. With Manila facing the China Sea, our port trade waters are in trouble. We need an alternate port so as not to incur additional shipping cost and additional shipping time. We need this new Port to move the goods at our ports efficiently to their world-wide destinations.