MANILA - Senator Ralph Recto believes the abandoned container vans clogging the two ports in Manila can be put to good use.
In a statement on Saturday, Recto said government can buy or seize the abandoned containers then give them to local government units or other agencies which can turn them into something useful.
He said the container vans can be converted into housing for disaster victims, police stations, classrooms, rice storage, mobile clinics, and libraries.
He said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has the manpower and equipment to modify the 40-foot vans.
"With its army of student welders and metalcraft trainees," the TESDA can transform the shipping vans into offices or homes and even hotels, he said.
Recto noted that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has used converted vans as outposts of its traffic personnel and emergency response crews.
Some police outposts in Metro Manila are also housed in old vans, he said.
"Kung wala ng lupa para pagtayuan ng istasyon ng police sa isang lugar kung saan naglipana ang riding-in-tandem gangs, van na lang na may kuryente at aircon ang pwedeng ilagay kahit sa sidewalk," Recto said.
"The possibilities are endless. Vans can be used as libraries of which there is a national shortage. It can be used as mobile clinics," he added.
"Because we lose 14 percent of our palay harvest to lack of storage facilities, then maybe these vans can be donated to farmers so they can have a place to store their palay and other crops that is safe from the elements and pests like rats," he said.
The senator said the vans can also be made into temporary houses for victims of the Zamboanga siege and super typhoon "Yolanda."
"Di hamak na mas mabuti naman yan kesa trapal. And the vans, because they're durable, can be sent to other disaster affected areas when the homes of those occupying it are already finished."
Container congestion at the two ports in Manila peaked in June this year when an estimated 90,000 unclaimed or overstaying vans were reported to be waiting in the yards to be processed.
"I am not saying nor am I hinting that we buy thousands of these vans. What I am saying is that we convert those already abandoned and seized, and study the possibility of purchasing more but at a heavily-discounted price," Recto said.