MALALAG, Davao Del Sur, Philippines—More and more cargo ships are being brought here to lay up as the country and the rest of the world suffer from a sharp decline in international cargo volume, according to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
In a report on Wednesday, Marina said the number of cargo ships that dropped anchor off the port had risen to 31 since January. At least 29 of the 31 ships docked are owned by large international shipping companies.
Local officials, however, refuse to disclose how much revenue the lay-ups have so far generated following requests of ship owners, citing security reasons.
The port here is considered one of the most ideal berthing areas in the Philippines. It is about 30 kilometers south of Davao City and more than 4 km long and 1 km wide.
The site, which the firm Asia Pacific Chartering Philippines helped develop in 1975, was accredited as a regional anchorage for deep water berthing of tankers and dry cargo vessels, regardless of tonnage and size.
The influx of cargo ships dropping anchor at the port has alarmed police, however.
Superintendent Alberto Lupaz, director of the 1104th provincial police mobile group, said the ships were drawing many people who are impressed by their huge sizes each day.
“We are expecting more lay-ups (docking of ships) at the port in the coming days as the global financial crisis worsens,” he said.
Because of this, Lupaz said terrorists might target the ships, prompting the police to reinforce security at the port.
Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, officer in charge of the provincial police office, said the province has always been known as the drop-off point for people coming from southern and central Mindanao.
He said this was the reason police tightened security in the province to prevent terrorists from slipping in.
Last year, at least two bomb attacks, which killed nearly a dozen people, occurred in Digos City, the province’s capital.