Home » Maritime » Single maritime agency gets powerful advocate

MALACAÑANG is backing the creation of a single maritime agency, with President Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo ordering the maritime sector to lobby for the establishment of such an agency.

“I think the Cabinet Secretaries will not disagree anymore this time because President Arroyo herself gave her approval,” Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chair Feliciano Salonga said, adding that the sector is now preparing the ground work for its lobbying gameplan.

The creation, he said, would mean reorganization at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and its agencies, including the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

Efforts to create a Department of Maritime Affairs under President Estrada’s term were clipped by disagreement among Cabinet Secretaries.

Salonga explained there was much disapproval over a separate agency for fear that the powers of the DOTC will be diluted.

Marina presently regulates the shipping industry and the PPA, the ports.

As it is, Marina’s powers are already limited since it shares training and regulation of seafarers with some agencies of the Department of Labor and Employment and with the Commission on Higher Education.

In 2006, the committees on government reorganization and on transportation at the House of Representatives filed measures offering maritime industry reforms. All were shelved as a result of the May 2007 elections. These include House Bill 622, which seeks to institute a Maritime Code of the Philippines and to create the Philippine Maritime Commission, an attached agency of the DOTC.

The commission would serve as the lead agency for planning and coordination of maritime transportation, and supervision of maritime business and ocean affairs.

House Bills 883 and 2197, on the other hand, sought to create a Department of Maritime Affairs tasked to establish and administer integrated programs relative to the promotion, development and regulation of ports, shipping, shipbuilding and seafaring industries; promotion of maritime safety; protection of marine environment and resources; and training and development of the country’s seafarers and merchant marines.

“The creation emphasizes the urgent need to create a separate department that will formulate a comprehensive, sound and up-to-date policy that will govern the administration of the country’s maritime affairs,” according to the bills.

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