May utang na, may bagahe pa: FastCat owner Pastrana, 3 other incoming execs tow PPA into a sea of conflict (of interest)

Delicadeza appears to be out of fashion in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) with the incoming general manager, his two assistants, and a private sector representative all having personal interests that could put them in conflict with their assigned posts.

Based on documents revealed on radio anchor Anthony Taberna’s personal blog, incoming PPA general manager, Archipelago Philippines Ferries-FastCat owner Christopher Pastrana, owed the Department of Transportation (DoTr), mother unit of PPA, P132 million in unpaid monthly amortizations for his vessels, Maharlika 1 and 2.

The unpaid dues of these vessels (which Pastrana owned under his Philharbor Ferries and Port Services) have not been reportedly paid since 2013 and the DoTr issued its most recent demand letter to Pastrana on May 6 or just weeks before he was named the next PPA GM.

Pastrana’s lawyer replied that it had “every intention” to pay its obligations pending the outcome of its ongoing dispute with the Department of Transportation in the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court.

Pastrana actually paid off some of Philharbor’s debts to PPA – P12 million – on June 27 or four days after he was announced as the next PPA head honcho.

A source said Pastrana’s brother-in-law operates 10 PPA terminals. This means that Pastrana controls 18 port terminals or 15 percent of PPAs regulated ports.

Aside from regulating the country’s seaports (FastCat operates and manage eight ports and terminals), Pastrana would also take a seat on the board of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) which regulates the shipping industry, including FastCat which, as of 2019, owns 12 roll-on, roll-off vessels serving three million passengers annually in Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Pastrana is also reportedly bringing in two assistant general managers who, like him, have personal stakes in the shipping and port business – Abogado Ricky Ty, FastCat vice president for legal; and Romy Casela, port manager of a 250-hectare reclaimed port owned by Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (Bredco). Pastrana will also bring with him Emilio Ubaldo Jr., who runs several PPA terminals and supplies ancillary services such as water taxis, and waste reception, as private sector representative to the PPA board.

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