Friday, 23 October 2009

Zamboanga airport, seaport get Aussie-funded new equipment


ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Australian government turned over last week around half-a-million pesos worth of equipment that are expected to improve airport and seaport operations here, in line with the thrust of enhancing coordination and delivery of customs, immigration, quarantine, and security (CIQS) services in Mindanao and Palawan, a statement of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) read.

The package of P500,000 worth of equipment, which include handheld radios, desktop computers and printers, and other equipment needed for day-to-day airport and seaport operations, was handed to key officials here headed by port manager Leonilo Miole of Philippine Ports Authority-Port Management Office (PPA-PMO), Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group Chief Superintendent Danilo Abadiano and Zamboanga City Airport Manager Celso Bayabos.

The Philippine Ports Authority is considering the purchase of closed-circuit television cameras for the Zamboanga seaport through an additional assistance package.

The equipment was granted through the BIMP-EAGA Support Team (BEST) on CIQS Project, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and implemented by MEDCo.

The said equipment, according to the Zamboanga City CIQS Consultative Council (ZC-CIQS-CC), are necessary for enhancing security as well as easing the flow of communication and coordination at Zamboanga ports.

"MEDCo is confident that we are gradually gaining our momentum towards achieving our goal of increasing trade, tourism and investment in BIMP-EAGA through improving the delivery of CIQS services at ports, starting with providing security for our stakeholders," the statement quoted Undersecretary Virgilio L. Leyretana Sr., chairman of MEDCo, as saying during the turnover ceremony held at the Zamboanga City airport.

He said that improved CIQS coordination at the ports will help facilitate a freer and faster movement of people, goods and services around Mindanao and Palawan and within the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

He said MEDCo, through the project, has been facilitating requests from CIQS agencies for assistance in improving their operations through better equipment and facilities.

Provision of such equipment and facilities, in turn, is expected to help the personnel concerned put their CIQS training to use.

Introduced in 2006, the BEST on CIQS Project aims to strengthen coordination and partnership among CIQS agencies, provide capacity-building activities to improve delivery of CIQS services at ports, as well as harmonize CIQS rules, regulations and procedures.

Under the BEST on CIQS Project, AusAID has so far committed P3.75 million for all six priority ports in Mindanao and Palawan, namely: Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos-Sarangani, Cotabato-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Palawan.

Through the BEST on CIQS Project, Local CIQS Consultative Councils (LCCCs) in the ports of Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga, were revived and strengthened, while the LCCCs in Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, and Puerto Princesa were operationalized. These LCCCs serve as a venue for CIQS agencies to resolve port-based issues and concerns at the local level.

The project has also trained key personnel of CIQS agencies in Mindanao and Palawan on various CIQS-related capacity building training covering various subjects such as Explosives Detection/Recognition and Threat Management, Intelligence and Surveillance Work at the port level, Upgrading Human Resources to Combat Transnational Crimes, Aviation Security, Trafficking in Persons, Safe Gun Handling and Marksmanship, Identifying and Handling Dangerous Goods and Illegal Drug Precursors, Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, as well as Philippines-Indonesia Joint Patrol Exercises.

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