DOTr sends two reefer vans to Romblon as part of ongoing ‘Palamigan ng Bayan’ project amid COVID-19 pandemic

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) sent two refrigerated container vans (reefer vans) to Romblon as part of its ongoing “Palamigan ng Bayan” project which aims to help local government units store perishable goods and farm produce amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The two reefer vans, donated by Maersk Line, were repaired and delivered to the DOTr through the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) by the Association of International Shipping Lines Inc. (AISL) on 3 July 2020. On 24 July 2020, the two reefer vans were sent by the DOTr, with the assistance of Starhorse Shipping Lines, Inc. and Certified Customs Brokerage Inc., to the towns of San Agustin, and Romblon, in Romblon province.

An initiative by Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, the “Palamigan ng Bayan” project aims to help the agriculture sector preserve the quality of their farm produce and gain better market access, as well as further strengthen and boost the government’s response efforts amid the current economic crisis brought about by the (COVID-19) pandemic.

“It has always been my goal for our provinces, especially those that rely heavily on agriculture, to have access to reefer container vans or what we call as “Palamigan ng Bayan,” said Secretary Tugade.

“Now that we are facing an unprecedented crisis, we can clearly see how crucial it is to support the agriculture sector. It is high time to boost our initiative and reach areas that are in dire need of help,” Secretary Tugade added.

The two reefer vans add to the initial eleven (11) “Palamigan” donated reefers that have been deployed to various municipalities and cities across the country.

The first refrigerated container van was sent to Bohol in 2018. On April 13, two reefer container vans were deployed to the One Bataan Center in Orani, Bataan to help preserve the supply of perishable goods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish products in the province.

This was followed by another five refrigerated containers being sent to Dingalan, Aurora; Tubigon, Bohol; Claveria, Cagayan; Iloilo Province; and Ormoc City, Leyte. On May 4, the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) reported to the DOTr that the three reefer container vans intended for Cebu Province were turned over to its Provincial Government.

The CPA assisted in the turn-over. The agency also reported that one of the three units was already deployed to the Municipality of San Remigio Fish Port, while the remaining two were delivered to Cebu South Bus terminal to be used for the Provincial Bagsakan Central.

For his part, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Maritime Transport VADM Narciso Vingson Jr. affirmed that these reefer vans are already being used by the respective municipalities.

“Following the mandate of DOTr Secretary Tugade, we are monitoring these reefers vans and assessing to ensure that they are being used. So far, reports received from the ground confirm that they are serving their purpose,” Asec Vingson said.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago also stressed the importance of the initiative, especially during this period that the country is grappling with a health crisis.

“Sa pamamagitan ng PPA, CPA, PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) at MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority), nagpadala po tayo ng mga tinatawag na “Palamigan ng Bayan” o ito po ‘yung mga refrigerated containers na kung saan dino-donate po ito ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon sa mga LGUs upang magamit na imbakan ng pagkain para ‘di po agad masira bago i-distribute,” GM Santiago said.