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CPA eyes revised rules on Cebu harbor pilot accreditation

  • The Cebu Port Authority is proposing to revise its harbor pilots accreditation policy
  • CPA accreditation will no longer be required of pilots associations/organizations or any association/organization
  • Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association executive director Atty. Pedro Aguilar welcomed the CPA proposal

The Cebu Port Authority (CPA) is proposing a revision of its harbor pilots accreditation policy, including no longer requiring pilots associations/organizations or any association/organization to secure CPA accreditation.

A CPA-accredited harbor pilots (CAHP) is a licensed harbor pilot duly accredited by CPA to act as a regular pilot on any vessel of more than 500 gross revenue tonnage (GRT) engaged in foreign and coastwise trade within the limits of the Cebu pilotage district.

Despite CPA accreditation of pilot organizations being no longer necessary, CAHPs may still join or form an association or organization based on the draft proposal.

Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association executive director Atty. Pedro Aguilar, during a public consultation on the proposed administrative order (AO) on June 17, welcomed the CPA proposal.

Under the draft AO, the shipping line or its agent/representative or vessel operator will also have the prerogative to choose a harbor pilot from among the CAHPs as well as the appropriate equipment and facilities. As per current rules covered by CPA AO 02-98, the pilots’ organization, as required by CPA, makes the equipment available.

Proposed changes

The proposed AO will repeal Sections 3 (Evaluation of Applicants) and 4 (Documentary Requirements) of CPA Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 08-98, which was issued in June 1998 and provides implementing guidelines on pilotage service.

It will also amend Sections 1 and 2 of Article IV of CPA AO 02-98, also issued in 1998 and providing the rules and regulations governing pilotage services, the conduct of pilots, and pilotage in Cebu ports.

As in current rules, the proposed AO will create an Evaluation Committee for Accreditation of Harbor Pilots to verify and process all applications and evaluate qualifications of applicants. The committee will recommend qualified applicants according to CPA-established criteria.

The general manager will designate any organic personnel from the Harbor Control Center (HCC) to act as secretariat of the committee, with the secretariat keeping records and releasing the accreditation to the grantee.

Harbor pilot applicants must not be more than 60 years old when the accreditation took effect. The draft AO no longer carries the condition set under AO 02-98 that incumbent pilots more than 60 years old will be allowed to continue as pilots for two years or until reaching age 70, whichever comes first, unless disqualified for other reasons.

The proposed AO will also amend Section 3 of Article IV of AO 02-98. The CPA general manager, upon recommendation of the evaluation committee, will issue accreditation of pilots instead of the chairman of the CPA board of commissioners.

The term of accreditation will begin on the first day of January until the CAHP reaches 60 years of age, when the accreditation is deemed automatically terminated, unless sooner revoked or cancelled.

Furthermore, the CAHP must maintain a valid harbor pilot license or his/her accreditation will be suspended automatically. Within one year from the date of suspension, the CAHP must submit to CPA a valid harbor pilot license to retain his/her accreditation. Otherwise, the accreditation will be deemed automatically cancelled.

Moreover, the harbor pilot should post a P1-million indemnity bond in favor of CPA to cover liability arising from any accident resulting in damage to vessels, port facilities and other properties, and/or injury to persons or death which may be caused by his/her performance of pilotage duties. Under AO 02-98, an indemnity bond of P3 million is required from the pilots’ association.

If the proposed AO is approved, all existing provisional accreditations as of May 31, 2021 will be valid only until December 31, 2021. Another accreditation will be issued effective January 1, 2022, subject to applicable conditions: for incumbent harbor pilots who are above 60 years old but not over 65 on January 1, 2022; term of two years starting January 1, 2022 until December 31, 2023; or if the preceding condition is no longer applicable, the term will be less than two years until he/she reaches the age of 65.

Upon effectivity of the proposed order, all masters/captains of vessels of Philippine registry with more than 500 GRT will no longer be required to be accredited by CPA. However, they need to register at the HCC and submit an appropriate Certificate of Competency as per Maritime Industry Authority MC No. MS-2020-03, series of 2020. Should they fail to register and submit the required competency, the shipping line or its agent/representative or vessel operator should engage the services of a CPA-accredited harbor pilot.

Stakeholders are given until June 22 to submit their position papers on the proposed AO. – Roumina Pablo


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