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Major domestic lines in the Philippines will soon be required to have their security and sea marshal onboard assessed by the Maritime Industry Authority.The security assessment report would contain the required training for both security officers from private agencies and sea marshals currently provided by the government.Arnie Santiago, a marine investigation division chief, explained that such an assessment is necessary since the agency supervising the sea marshals only deploys the security team.

The assessment report is also needed because of the absence of International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code requirement coverage for the domestic trade.Domestic lines are not required to comply with the ISPS Code – security regulations applied only to international shipping – but in the last year some domestic operators have voluntarily adopted measures along similar lines.

Apart from training, Santiago said the report would include the synopsis record of each passenger/cargo ship detailing its capability such as provision of metal detector, bomb sniffing dogs and other security details.Meanwhile, passengers of major domestic ships in the Philippines have expressed satisfaction over the posting of sea marshals on board to provide security while the ships are under way.A random survey conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also found overwhelming support for the continued deployment of composite teams of the Armed Forces, Philippine National Police and PCG that started in March 2004 immediately after the SuperFerry 14 bombing.

The poll was conducted in early May on passengers on ferries of Aboitiz Transport System, Sulpicio Lines, Negros Navigation, MBRS Shipping and Moreta Shipping Lines. Respondents were asked whether ferries could be attacked by terrorists and said they were aware of the sea marshals and knew their role. Of 203 respondents, 201 said they feel secure with joint sea marshals escorting or deployed on board passenger vessels.

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