Several maritime and port agencies have convened to prepare for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) in 2021, with the audit intended to check the Philippines’ compliance with and implementation of IMO agreements.
The IMSAS Interagency Council (ITC) met on June 21 to discuss the draft Philippine IMO Strategy and Cross Table of Responsibilities. The ITC is composed of representatives from the Department of Transportation, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority, Office for Transportation Security, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, National Telecommunications Commission, and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
ITC was created under DOTr Department Order No. 2018-006 to ensure the Philippines meets its obligations and responsibilities as an IMO member state in relation to IMSAS.
The draft Philippine IMO Strategy contains measures the Philippines will adopt to fully and effectively implement and enforce the mandatory IMO Instruments that it has ratified. These include the Safety of Life at Sea, International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, International Convention on Load Lines, International Convention on the Tonnage Measurement of Ships, and International Convention for the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
The draft strategy also highlights key performance indicators, timeline, office, and budget.
Delineation of roles
ITC members exchanged views on the Cross Table of Responsibilities, specifically on delineating roles and responsibilities of the Philippine maritime administration under the mandatory IMO instruments.
ITC also discussed the draft department order—issued after the IMSAS mock audit conducted in 2018—on the designation of a single point of contact for IMSAS 2021 and the creation of an IMSAS support and implementation unit.
Marina officer-in-charge Narciso Vingson, Jr. emphasized the importance of the Philippines complying, as a state party, with its international obligations and responsibilities. Specifically, this compliance will boost the confidence of the Philippines as a maritime nation in conducting trade with other countries.
The IMSAS 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.
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.
Marina Overseas Shipping Service director Atty. Jean Ver Pia earlier clarified that IMSAS “is not a fault-finding audit but an audit to assist the Philippines for continual improvement and enhancement of performance as a member state” of the IMO. – Roumina Pablo