CALL TO ACTION: The Problem of the Island Commuters to Jolo, etc.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 21 May) — The problem of commuters taking the boat to Jolo etc. has reached alarming proportion that ordinary commuters are finding it difficult to buy tickets to Jolo, Siasi, Bongao, Sitangkai and are forced to buy from scalpers who buy boat tickets to resell it at the wharf for a higher price.

Is there a collusion between the scalpers and some greedy enterprising ship personnel? Why is the shipping management allowing this? What can the local government units do to protect the citizens from being fooled by this unsafe practice?

What happens when you buy a ticket from a scalper? What is your evidence you took the boat when your name is not on the manifest and in case of tragic accidents, your family has no evidence that it was you on the boat. They get nothing. No claims can be acted upon by the shipping management.

So, how do we protect the riding commuters?

The duty bearers in this continuous abuse who ought to respond to this problem are:
1.The Philippine Ports Authority (PA) management
2.The Shipping Line management
3.The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA)
4.The Philippine Coast Guard
5.The concerned Local Government Units of Jolo, Siasi, Bongao, Sitangkai and Zamboanga.

Personally, I think the following measures must be strictly enforced:
1. No ticket/ No boarding policy
2. Enforce the Same Ticket/Same ID holder policy.
3. The Shipping Line must have a ticketing officer at the Port Area/wharf to allow latecomers to buy ticket or they can come up with a daily cut off period (say 6 PM) for issuance of tickets).The shipping management must ensure that the same person holds the same ticket. Or perhaps we can lobby for a law to be passed in Congress making it punishable for the Shipping Lines to sell tickets to fictitious ID holders.

Once enforced, the passengers will be discouraged from buying from the scalpers. This will put an end to this unscrupulous business of making hay at the expense of the riding public. This takes a concerted action from all the commuters.

All the duty bearers have the obligation to protect the riding public from being fooled by the scalpers.

We should not wait for a tragic shipping accident to happen and the rightful passenger’s family is deprived of claims all because we have allowed the scalpers to make a killing at the expense of the commuters.

In the meantime I urge the island LGUs together with the Regional Ports Management Authority (in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) to be vigilant regarding the enforcement of the rules.

I am sure, the shipping lines do not want their business to be cut abruptly.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Sharifa Pearlsia P. Ali-Dans recently retired as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. She was a Fulbright Philippines Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at the University of Texas in Austin form 1990 to 1991 and a PROBE RLMC (Project in Basic Education –Regional Learning Materials Center) AusAId Fellow in 1997 at the Southbank Institute of TAFE in Brisbane, Australia. She posted this piece on her FB wall on May 20, 2019. MindaNews was granted permission to publish this. Ms Dans adds that the plane fare to Jolo is more than 2,000 pesos while the boat fare is just about 400 pesos “so majority of the affected commuters are the low and middle income families.”)