MARINA pushing for bills to improve ship registry, modernize shipbuilding industry

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MARINA pushing for bills to improve ship registry, modernize shipbuilding industry
Local ships docked at Manila North Harbor.
  • The Maritime Industry Authority will push for the passage of bills aimed at improving the country’s ship registry and modernizing the ship building and ship repair industry
  • MARINA is reviewing bills on ship registry and ship building and ship repair as it aims for certification of the proposed legislation as priority bills for passage into law by the 20th Congress
  • Both bills will create employment, while the shipbuilding bill will support the modernization of the domestic shipping industry

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) will push for the passage of bills aimed at improving the country’s ship registry and modernizing the shipbuilding and ship repair industry.

MARINA is revisiting draft bills on ship registry and ship building and ship repair as it aims to have the proposed legislation certified as priority bills by the administration and passed into law by the next (20th) Congress.

“We will be proactive on this. We are again revisiting the draft bills and by second half of the year we will be calling on legislators to present our ship registry act or the ship registry bill and the shipbuilding development bill,” MARINA administrator Sonia Malaluan said in a recent media briefing.

Malaluan said the bills are being prioritized as they will provide “more impact” to the economy and will enable other programs and projects in MARINA’s Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028.

READ: Implementation of Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028 approved

Bills currently filed in Congress that are in line with MARINA’s legislative agenda include House Bill (HB) No. 4336 and Senate Bill (SB) Nos. 902 and 1564 that seek to establish a ship registry system in the Philippines; and HB 4335 and HB 8374 proposing the Shipbuilding Development Act.

All are still pending at the committee level.

Malaluan said they don’t expect passage of the bills during the current (19th) Congress, whose sessions will end next year, but that they are already preparing for the start of the 20th Congress.

She said they will be presenting to lawmakers the economic impact of the two legislative items, which she noted will serve as enablers for the country’s shipbuilding industry and ship registry.

MARINA is also closely coordinating with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office and Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legislative Affairs on how they can improve on the bills and eventually have them certified as priority bills by the administration.

She noted that from her personal observation, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “is now aware of the need to have these two bills, both of which will create employment.”

The shipbuilding bill will also support the modernization of the domestic shipping industry.

Malaluan noted the irony of local shipowners acquiring ships abroad while local shipbuilders are constructing newbuilds for export.

She noted that “if we will run the figures, it would be more cost-efficient” if these are made here.

In the Philippines, there are requirements on ownership, crew, and taxes.

She noted that having a strong Philippine registry will also help Filipino seafarers since one of the requirements for registration is that they have a 100% Filipino crew onboard.

Presidential Decree 474 and Executive Order Nos. 125 and 125-A, meanwhile, granted MARINA the authority to register domestic and overseas ships but they do not meet the conditions for the grant of nationality to ships and the establishment of the genuine link as required by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of The Sea, to which the Philippines is a signatory.

MARINA requests the urgent passage into law of the ship registry bill seen to result in a strong and competitive merchant marine fleet owned and controlled by Filipinos.

“Philippine ship registry can better be realized if there is a legal framework that will encourage shipowners to enter into long term vessel acquisition, development and modernization programs, and that will facilitate a simplified method of foreign shipowners hiring Filipino crew to consider the Philippine registry as a competitive and attractive registry for their ships,” MARINA Legal Service director Atty. Sharon Aledo explained during a Lower House Committee on Transportation hearing on HB 4336 in November 2022.

While the bill on ship registry is still to be passed, Malaluan said MARINA is improving registration through digitalization of the process to make it shorter and efficient.

Aside from the two bills, Malaluan earlier said they will push for the revision or amendment of laws in order to provide tax incentives, including exemption on fuel tax, to the domestic shipping industry. – Roumina Pablo