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Davao International Container Terminal in Panabo, Davao Del Norte was one of the container terminals that received a positive security assessment from the US Coast Guard.

Three international container ports in the Philippines have made significant improvements in the conduct of the International Port Security Program (IPSP), according to an assessment made by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) last month.

Davao International Container Terminal (DICT) in Panabo, Davao Del Norte; Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC) in Zambales; and Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) in Manila were assessed by the USCG last April 1 to April 5 as part of an in-country visit that it conducts in all countries servicing US-flagged vessels engaged in international trade. The visit aims to facilitate sharing of port security best practices and development of mutual interests in securing ships coming in and going out of the US.

A typical USCG visit entails several observations such as port facility and vessel vulnerability assessment; security plan approval process leading to the issuance of an International Ship Security Certificate; and evaluation of security measures at a representative port or series of ports to verify compliance with the IPSP. In partnership with its maritime trading partners, the IPSP seeks to reduce risk to US maritime interests, including US ports and ships, and to facilitate secure maritime trade globally.

The USCG team provided positive observations during the exit briefing held on April 5. The briefing highlighted the efforts made by the concerned parties to apply corrective measures based on the observations reported on these ports in 2015.

The USCG team also pointed out areas for improvement at these ports, such as continuous monitoring by CCTVs; implementing uniform security measures throughout the perimeter fence; making employees’ identification and security tags bear expiry dates or be color-coded; having a clear and direct communication link between the port facility security officer and ship’s security officer; subjecting cargo drivers to random body search or inspection; and improving security measures for cruise terminal operation, particularly in Subic.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade welcomed the positive security assessment given by the USCG, and promised to further improve security protocols at container terminals and seaports nationwide.

“We appreciate the USCG Team for the visit and the assessment, as this will give us the baseline for our security standards as maritime trading partners. We value all efforts that will further enhance our interdependence leading to mutual prosperity,” the transportation chief said.

“Our strong partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard bears proven positive results over the years. With this, we will continue to work hard to improve our security measures in our ports and carry on with this breakthrough. Rest assured, necessary steps will be taken for our ports to comply with the standards of the International Port Security Program,” Tugade said.

Present in the briefing were DOTr assistant secretary for maritime Lino Dabi, on behalf of Tugade; Office of Transportation Security deputy administrator Miguel Oraa, director for transport security oversight and compliance service Gerardo Gambala; and representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Ports Authority, MICT, DICT and SBITC.

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