Marcos to Marina: Update ‘obsolete’ maritime rules | Inquirer News

Marcos to Marina: Update ‘obsolete’ maritime rules

/ 02:06 AM January 19, 2024

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has directed the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to update what he described as “obsolete” rules governing the country’s maritime industry to make it at par with global standards.

The President said Marina should set up standard government policies on the operations and practices, including reviving shipbuilding activities and upgrading education and training for Filipino seafarers.

“These [plans] are all promotion, modernization but let us standardize first our systems and at the same time we undertake this like promotion of highly-skilled Filipino maritime workforce,” Marcos told Marina officials at a briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.


READ: Bongbong Marcos orders Marina to standardize maritime system – Palace

The President gave the directive in reaction to the proposed Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028 (MIDP 2028) that was presented by Marina administrator Sonia Malaluan.


In a separate statement, Marcos said the government was finalizing the MIDP 2028 to “make sure it prioritizes the well-being of Filipino seafarers.”

“Upon its immediate completion, we will guarantee effective project implementation and the international recognition for our seafarers’ qualifications,” he said.

Threat of EU ban

In his second State of the Nation Address delivered last year, Marcos vowed to provide foreign merchant marine vessels with a steady supply of “competent” Filipino seafarers.

In 2022, the deployment of Filipino seafarers faced a potential ban from working on European vessels, after a 2020 European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit found the Philippines still noncompliant with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (ISTCW).

The ISTCW sets the “minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.”

At the Palace briefing on the MIDP 2028, the President said the first step in implementing reforms in the maritime industry is to standardize operations in accordance with international standards.


READ: Marcos vows efficient maritime industry dev’t plan implementation

Among the core programs of MIDP 2028 are the “modernization and expansion of the Philippine domestic shipping,” “promotion and expansion of the Philippine overseas shipping, modernization of the Philippine shipbuilding and ship repair industry” and “promotion of highly-skilled Filipino and competitive maritime workforce.”

The President conceded that the government had not done enough to promote the country’s capabilities for shipbuilding and repair.

“So let’s standardize our practices so that we will be the same with our international counterparts. We have to fix our house first,” he said. “Because we have to compete and in order to do that, we should have an even playing field and then we should gain an advantage.”

Local trips costlier

Marcos also noted with concern the “high” cost of shipping in the country compared to other countries.

Citing an example, he said is usually cheaper to ship cargo to the Philippines from abroad — such as Hong Kong — than to transport goods locally, like from Manila to General Santos City.

In response, Marina officials said domestic shipping is relatively more expensive since international shipping companies usually have an advantage in terms of vessel size and quality. The latter have larger ships and have the economies of scale to reduce travel costs and fares.

Ships plying international routes are also not subjected to excise tax on fuel, while domestic shipping in the Philippines bears the burden of additional fuel tax, the officials said.

Since fleets plying domestic routes are relatively older, they also tend to be less efficient.

Investors have shown little interest in putting money in the local shipping industry, Marina officials also told the President.

According to the Marina, the government needs to change the current maritime policy allowing 20-year old passenger ships to operate and 25-year old vessels to haul freight.

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“Let’s standardize and also prioritize in terms of the immediacy of some of these,” the President said.

TAGS: Marina, seafarers

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