Home » Maritime, Ports/Terminals » Marina bares preparations for IMO state audit

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is working on passing laws enabling the Philippines to implement international maritime conventions that the country has ratified. This as the Philippines prepares for the upcoming audit by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the country’s compliance to and implementation of IMO agreements.

Former Marina administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III told PortCalls in an interview in late December that the maritime agency is preparing for the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS), which the Philippines, as a member state, will be subjected to by 2021. IMSAS will determine how well member states give full and complete effect to their obligations and responsibilities contained in a number of IMO treaty instruments.

(Amaro was fired by President Rodrigo Duterte this week for frequent overseas travels.)

Of the 59 IMO conventions, the Philippines has ratified only 22, of which only one has an enabling law, said Amaro. This is Republic Act (RA) No. 10635, signed in 2014, which established Marina as the single maritime authority responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

(But aside from RA 10635, another law was actually enacted in 2007 to implement two IMO conventions. RA 9483, or the Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007, adopts and implements the provisions of the 1992 International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the 1992 International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage.)

Amaro said Marina is drafting the bills that will enable the conventions’ implementation and enforcement in the country. He explained that while the Philippines has already ratified the conventions, enabling laws still need to be enacted by Congress.

The top five conventions Marina is prioritizing for Congress’ enactment of enabling laws are the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as amended (MARPOL); International Convention on Load Lines (CLL); International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs); and International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM).

Asked about the possible repercussions if the Philippines fails to enact enabling laws and implement ratified conventions, Amaro said the country’s reputation will be affected. Moreover, the Philippines, also a member of the IMO Council that is responsible for supervising the work of the organization, might be declared an irresponsible member state, he noted.

The Philippines is an IMO member under Category C. States under this category have special interest in maritime transport or navigation, and their election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.

He said the Philippines cannot just be an observer at IMO because the country has a big interest in seafaring, as there are about half a million Filipino seafarers contributing almost US$6 billion yearly to the country’s economy.

Amaro explained that problems could emerge with the absence of an enabling law, such as, for example, issues with the BMW, which entered into force September last year. He noted that while ship owners can comply with the equipment requirements, the Philippines, lacking an enabling law, cannot issue a certificate of compliance. He said this may result in Philippine-flag vessels being forced to re-flag in other countries which can provide them the certification, leaving the Philippines’ registry with no vessels. This is counter to Marina’s goal of promoting a healthier Philippine flag registry as part of its aim for the country to become a major maritime nation.

While waiting for the enabling laws, Marina has been reminding stakeholders to comply with instruments of conventions that have come into force.

Amaro said Marina is also preparing the bills for other IMO Conventions ratified by the country.

Currently, ANGKLA Party-list representative Jesulito Manalo’s House Bill (HB) No. 456 is being deliberated on under the Lower House Committee on Transportation. HB 456 covers the implementation and enforcement of five IMO conventions on safety, security, and pollution prevention, namely, SOLAS, MARPOL, CLL, COLREGs, and the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships.

Aside from the IMO conventions, Marina is also working on bills to enable the maritime sector to comply with other international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Instrument of Accession to this agreement early last year. – Roumina Pablo

Story was updated on Jan 12, 2017, 4:08 pm to include information on the another International Maritime Organization Convention ratified by the Philippines that already has an enabling law.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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