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Domestic terminal Manila North Harbor

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is appealing to the “kindness and generosity” of domestic shipping operators, owners, charterers, and others concerned with operating a liner service to maintain the cargo and freight rates being implemented prior to the declaration of a public health emergency and enforcement of enhanced community quarantine in the Philippines.

MARINA, in Advisory (MA) No. 2020-19, also encourages them to “perform their corresponding duty under the law to provide the necessary shipping services in order to meet emergency sealift requirements or when public interest so requires.”

MA 2020-19, dated March 25 and signed by Administrator Robert Empedrad, noted that Republic Act (RA) No. 9295, or the Domestic Shipping Act of 2004, mandates the maritime authority to “adopt rules and regulations which ensure the reasonable stability of passenger and freight rates and if necessary, to intervene in order to protect public interest, and in order not to impede the continued movement of essential goods, most especially in times of national emergency.”

RA 9295 has deregulated domestic shipping in order to encourage investments in the industry by authorizing domestic carriers to establish their own shipping rates, provided that effective competition is fostered and public interest is served.

However, it also allows MARINA to require any domestic ship operator to provide shipping services to any coastal area, island or region in the country where such services are necessary to develop the area, meet emergency sealift requirements, or are required by public interest.

To recall, domestic shipping lines, during the onslaught of Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013, assisted with carrying donations and necessary supplies to affected provinces.

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 17 placed the country under a state of calamity due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

An enhanced community quarantine is also being implemented in the entire Luzon from March 17 to April 13 to contain the virus.

While travel restrictions are being implemented, however, movement of all kinds of cargoes should also not to be impeded.

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