The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) Council has approved two vital documents submitted by the Philippines for the mandatory IMSAS audit.
In the 2nd Inter-agency Council Meeting held via videoconferencing on June 10, the IMSAS Council approved the Philippines’ Cross Table of Responsibilities (CTR) and draft Philippine Strategy on the Implementation and Enforcement of Relevant IMO Instruments, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) said in a statement.
IMSAS is a mandatory audit under the IMO Instruments of Implementation Code (III Code) conducted to determine how extensively a country implements and enforces its functions under maritime instruments as a flag, port, and coastal state.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IMO has decided to move IMSAS audits scheduled for 2020 to 2021 to 2022 and 2023, respectively.
The audit will set out to determine how well the Philippines, as a member state of the IMO and its Council, gives full and complete effect to its obligations and responsibilities contained in a number of IMO treaty instruments.
The CTR is a prerequisite to the drafting of the Philippine Strategy, as it clearly delineates obligations and interrelationship among maritime entities performing flag state, port state, and coastal state functions as prescribed by the relevant IMO Instruments. The Philippine Strategy aims to enhance maritime safety and protection of the environment and to meet international obligations and responsibilities as a member of the IMO.
“While this Strategy prepares us to the upcoming 2022 audit, this document serves as a sustainable solution in ensuring that despite frequent changes in leadership or shifting of priorities, our fulfillment in full and effective implementation of the IMO Conventions remains on top of our efforts,” said Transportation assistant secretary for maritime Narciso Vingson, Jr., who spearheaded the meeting.
Vingson added that with the Philippine Strategy in place, the national government, along with the international community, can remain confident that the Philippines remains focused in promoting a safe, secure and efficient sustainable maritime transport system that minimizes pollution while conserving energy and available resources.
MARINA Overseas Shipping Service director Atty. Jean Ver Pia, who is also the country’s point of contact for IMSAS, reported the preparatory activities undertaken by MARINA since the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS) in 2009 until 2019, as well as updates on the inter-agency verification audit held on January 20 to 24, 2020, and on the drafting of national legislation for international maritime instruments.
In view of the re-scheduling of the IMSAS audit, Pia said the Philippine IMSAS Inter-agency Council has also approved the Philippines’ revised schedule of activities related to the IMSAS audit.
An IMSAS interagency council was created in 2018 to ensure the Philippines meets its obligations and responsibilities as an IMO member state in relation to IMSAS. Last year, also in preparation for the IMSAS, an interagency council was again created to check the Philippines’ compliance with and implementation of IMO agreements.
Meanwhile, as a follow through action, an Inter-agency IMSAS Webinar will be conducted on June 26, 2020 to address difficulties encountered during the inter-agency verification audit held last January. The activity aims to brief participating agencies on the Implementation of IMO Instruments (III) Code and its Framework and Procedures.
The government agencies involved in the verification audit apart from MARINA are the Cebu Port Authority; Department of Transportation; National Mapping and Resource Information Authority; National Telecommunications Commission; Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration; Philippine Coast Guard; Philippine Ports Authority; and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.