The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has expressed their plans to attract more foreign ship owners to register their ships in the Philippines. MARINA Officer-in-Charge Vice-Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr. said that MARINA would be strengthening the Philippine Ship Registry as part of the 10-year Maritime Industry Plan (MIDP). Previously, the ship registry in the Philippines stood at only 116 compared to 467 in 1988.
MARINA’s 10-year MIDP seeks to address concerns in the country’s maritime sector, such as the state of training in the Philippines, the status of the country’s ship registry and the like, through integrated and holistic programs for the long-term.
One of MARINA’s eight priority programs is the establishment of a maritime industrial hub to promote the country’s flag registry. MARINA has organized workshops and meetings with private stakeholders to discuss and resolve the challenges of the Philippine Ship Registry. They’ve stated that good administration, infrastructure, and fiscal issues were key to attracting ship owners to register.
Aside from this, MARINA has also conducted regular bi-annual meetings to review the situation of the overseas shipping sector. Their strategy involved recommending changes to the legal framework. Through their efforts, two house bills were approved:
- HB 1288 or “An Act providing for the registration of ships and incentives therefore and other purpose,” and
- HB 1286 or “An Act providing for the full and effective implementation and enforcement of international maritime instruments of which Philippines is a State party.”
These laws were made to bolster the Philippine Ship Registry. It also aimed to improve the implementation of rules for maritime safety and security, and the protection of the maritime environment.
HB 1288 states that for the growth of the country’s economy, “a strong and competitive merchant marine fleet, owned and controlled by Filipinos or corporate entities established in the Philippines, manned by qualified Filipino officers and crew, and serving as a springboard for other maritime-related economic activities” is what’s needed.
Expanding on this, author of HB 1288 Rep. Teodoro Brawner Baguilat says, “Our vested interest in seafaring demands that we have a fleet for our seafarers. We can only expand our fleet if we can provide a legal framework that will encourage and allow ship owners to enter into long-term vessel acquisition, development, modernization and expansion programs, and provide avenues for foreign ship owners hiring Filipino crew to consider the Philippine registry as a competitive registry for their ships.”
If passed, these bills will help update our maritime laws to be in line with international maritime convention and practices.