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First Pinoy roll-on roll-off ship unveiled

First Pinoy roll-on roll-off ship unveiled
RAFFY AYENG August 19, 2019

A POTENTIAL boost in the country’s shipbuilding capabilities was seen after the first-ever Filipino made roll-on roll-off (RoRo) vessel was launched on Saturday.

The 468-seater M/V Isla Simara passenger RoRo ship with a 12-meter-long vehicle ramp was launched at North Harbor in Manila on Saturday.

The ship was made by Shogun Ships Corp. Inc. and Josefa Slipways Inc.

Isla Simara is the first RoRo ship in the Philippines with a modern automation and control system that could be monitored real-time in the company’s head office.

Thadedeus Jovelanos, president of Philippine Register of Shipping, said the vessel is also the first local RoRo ship with a marine evacuation system, a lifesaving device that is similar to an airplane’s evacuation chute through which passengers can slide directly to a lifeboat without getting wet.

Its maiden commercial trip was set this week from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen towns in Northern Samar, and parts of Romblon.

“We hope that with this project, we can inspire other ship owners and ship builders to do this kind of ship in the future,” said Shogun Ships president Vicente Cordero.

But United Filipino Seafarers President Nelson Ramirez told The Manila Times the country could have produced more vessels had the previous administration of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) followed its mandate as sole regulator of the maritime industry.

“Nakakahiya na ngayon lang tayo nagkaroon nito. (It is shameful that this would be our first time to have one.) We are an archipelagic country and yet, we do not have our own ships?” Ramirez said.

He said since 2004, there was already a law promoting the development of Philippine domestic shipping, shipbuilding, ship repair and ship breaking, and ordaining reforms in government policies towards shipping in the country, but Marina did not implement it seriously.

In a previous interview, Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. Chief Executive Officer and Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association (PISA) President Christopher Pastrana admitted the government had neglected the local shipbuilding in the Philippines, reiterating that relaxation of local taxes to local shipbuilders and tax incentives should also be enjoyed.

For its part, Marina said it already crafted an incentive program for domestic shipping, shipbuilding and ship repair to enhance the investment climate in the Philippines and attract more private-sector participation in the maritime industry.

It noted that it is strengthening the implementation of the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004, which facilitates the granting of incentives for shipping players, such as exemptions from value-added tax (VAT).

On its record from 2014 to 2017, Marina said there is a need for “increased awareness among stakeholders” of the provisions of the law, as only 103 out of 2,148 imported ships were granted VAT incentives during the three-year period.