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Du30 lauded for prioritizing national maritime agenda

PRRD lauded for prioritizing nat'l maritime agenda
Jelly Musico September 27, 2018

MANILA – Maritime industry stakeholders commended President Rodrigo Duterte for living up to his election promise to make national maritime agenda a priority of his administration.

Merle Jimenez-San Pedro, one of the convenors of the Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP), said Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation 316 declaring September as Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo) is a big step to boost the role of the maritime industry in the country’s economic development.

“It has really been a long, long struggle for the stakeholders that we get (the) much-needed attention of government,” San Pedro said in a media briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center on Wednesday.

While they see MANA Mo as a way to boost maritime awareness, San Pedro said both government and private sectors must work harder to make sure that policies, programs and activities would cascade down to the regional level.

“We realized for so many years that stakeholders have been pushing for a lot more reforms for the maritime. This is going to take more years maybe but we are happy that the first step has been done with the declaration of September as MANA Mo,” San Pedro said.

“This is just the beginning and I think the stakeholders will not stop in giving support because we still have a lot of work to do, especially in the community just to cascade this call for MANA Mo and to strengthen really our resolve for a better maritime Philippines,” she added.

She emphasized the need for the government to shift the people's attention not only on land-based, but marine-based development, considering that the Philippines is a maritime and archipelagic nation.

San Pedro said Duterte, then Davao City mayor, was the only presidential candidate who responded to the MMP’s invitation to present their respective agenda for maritime industry during the 2016 election campaign.

“It was only Mayor Duterte who came and he promised that if and when he wins, he will make national maritime agenda as his priority. So that from time on, we have been working closely with different government agencies,” San Pedro said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

She expressed gratitude to the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) for noting the stakeholders’ efforts to give significant contribution to national economic development.
San Pedro has commended the NCWC Secretary for organizing a National Marine Summit, which will be held tentatively in January next year.

She said all stakeholders from the private sector are looking forward to participate in the summit where Duterte is expected to issue an executive order (EO) towards attaining the marine development agenda.

Eric Marquez of the Joint Manning Group, on the other hand, expressed hope that the National Marine Summit would sustain the country’s position as the world’s top producer of competent seafarers.

“I’m happy that the direction of the NCWC is something that is noble, unique and for the first time, we are hearing (the) government talking a lot of sense,” Marquez said.

“Now I see a glimmer of hope and I hope these efforts that we are doing will really come out as one that will help the industry, all the sectors, not only manning. What we really need in manning is to keep our position as premier supplier of seamen,” he added.

According to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), 695,742 Filipino seafarers sent USD5.578 billion in total remittances in 2016.

Meanwhile, Meneleo Carlos III of the Shipyard Association of the Philippines (SHAP) thanked the NCWC for consulting their sector on the government’s efforts to give their industry a bigger role in economic development.

“We feel that the shipyard industry has a large role to play in all of those areas and while (it) may not operate the ships necessarily, we are to maintain the vessels and we are here to help the country benefit from properly maintained and managed maritime resources,” Carlos said.

In the upcoming National Marine Summit, the NCWCS expressed hope that Duterte would promulgate an updated National Marine Policy (NMP).

Michael Eric Castillo of NCWC Secretariat, meanwhile, said the NMP was formulated in 1994 but has not been fully implemented and adopted to consider social, political, economic and technological changes and advancements of marine development.

Castillo said the 24-year-old document must be updated to make it attuned to the present national economic development agenda.

He said all stakeholders from the government and private sectors will be given a chance to share their inputs in a convergence conference on Oct. 29-30 this year.

“It (NMP) aims to bring full utilization of the national marine assets and resources as drivers of Philippine economic progress to the center of the development policy program of the national government,” Castillo said.

During the summit, he said the NCWC hopes the President would also issue a separate EO amending EO 57 that created the NCWC.

Castillo said the EO amendments seek to strengthen the function of the NCWC by making maritime governance council to “better coordinate the activities, policies and programs” of both the government and private sectors. (PNA)