Marina hatches safety plan for domestic shipping

Maritime Industry Authority administrator Dr Maximo Mejia, Jr

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is in the process of creating a safety plan for the domestic shipping industry.

“That’s on top of our agenda today,” Marina administrator Dr. Maximo Mejia, Jr. told PortCalls on the sidelines of the agency’s 40th anniversary banquet last week at the Palacio de Maynila.

“That, you can imagine, is a major task; probably even trickier than EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency audit),” Mejia noted, adding that “we have to do this for our public.”

“First, we have to come up with our vessel retirement plan. We have to rationalize our manning policy not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of quality,” he said.

Under Marina’s sectoral plans and programs for 2013-2016, the goal for the domestic shipping industry is “to have a modern and regionally competitive fleet that is maintaining higher safety standards.”

Mejia said Marina will be “encouraging the acquisition, whether new or used vessels, that is more suited for the Philippine sea and weather conditions.”

“And if it’s new, then it also means tying up acquisition with shipbuilding,” Mejia pointed out, noting that the agency wants to encourage shipbuilders to come to the Philippines.

The Philippines was the fifth-largest shipbuilding nation in 2013 in terms of orderbook.

For its domestic shipping industry plan, Marina is drafting a legislative measure that seeks to harmonize/align all incentives/requirements under Republic Act 9295 or the Domestic Shipping Act of 2004; Executive Order 226 (The Omnibus Investments Code of 1987); EO 909 (Encouraging Investments in Newly Constructed Ships or Brand New Vessels in the Domestic Shipping Industry by Providing Incentives Therefor) and Presidential Decree 760 (Allowing the Temporary Registration of Foreign-owned Vessels Under Time Charter or Lease to Philippine Nationals for Use in the Philippine Coastwise Trade Subject to Certain Conditions).


Rejuvenating ship registry

In a speech read by Transport Undersecretary Julianito Bucayan, Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya noted that “one area in which the Philippines has lost competitive edge is the Philippine international shipping registry.”

He said that “while the Philippines is still listed among the world’s top 30 flags of registry, it is a far cry from coming in number 13 in the 1990s.”

Mejia said Marina’s goal for the international shipping sector is for the “Philippine Registry (to be) an attractive, quality and strong sovereign flag of choice of shipowners.”

“First of all, we’re working hand in hand with Congress because in order to really rejuvenate the Philippine ship registry, we need some fundamental legislative reform” such as the mortgage law and dispute resolution, Mejia said.

Marina is looking into revisions of its Memorandum Circulars 105/105-A and 166 on the Omnibus Rules on the Issuance of Special Permit for the Temporary Utilization of Philippine-registered Ships Whether Trading Overseas or Domestic.

The agency is also drafting a proposed Overall Legislative Agenda (Philippine Maritime Act) to be broken down into six- to eight-chapter draft legislation/bills:

  • Admiralty Court
  • Ship Mortgage
  • Incentives
  • Philippine Overseas Shipping Act
  • Amendments to CHED and PRC laws
  • STCW 2013 Act/Seafarer’s Act (including MLC and SID)
  • Seafarer’s Welfare Fund
  • Collaterals (MARPOL Bills) — Text and photo by Roumina M. Pablo