You are here

Marina @48: Innovating and transforming the maritime industry

Marina @48: Innovating and transforming the maritime industry
Genivi Verdejo June 6, 2022

THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) began its innovation and transformation journey, as it faced the challenges of the ever-changing demand on dynamic, local and international regulations, as well as the impact of the pandemic.

In celebrating Marina's 48th Founding Anniversary, Marina Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad AFP (Ret) said, "In the past year, the Marina was outstanding in giving service to the Filipino people. Our theme, charting a new course through innovation and transformation, exemplifies what Marina has become over the past year, or even the past two years."

He said, 48th years ago, former President Ferdinand Marcos approved the creation of Marina on June 1, 1974, as an attached Agency to the Office of the President (OP). With the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 474, otherwise known as the Maritime Industry Decree of 1974, the Marina was mandated to integrate the development, promotion and regulation of the maritime industry in the country.

With the creation of the Ministry (now Department) of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) by virtue of Executive Order No. 546, the Marina was attached to the DoTC for policy and program coordination on July 23, 1979.

Empedrad hopes that when they celebrate the 50th founding anniversary, two years from now, the incoming President Bong Bong Marcos would grace the event.

Nannette Villamor-Dinopol, deputy administrator for operations at Marina said the agency was able to stay afloat during the pandemic and now they are entering a new chapter of Marina.

"As the new administration comes in, we must start charting a new course that will lead us to new possibilities. Ignite the light in the corners of your mind and be an active part of the maritime community," Dinopol said.

Marina presented its accomplishments that housed the timely, practical, and leading-edge projects, plans and programs geared towards a progressive Philippine maritime industry.

"A vibrant maritime industry anchored on a highly competitive domestic shipping industry bodes well to the economic progress of our country," Empedrad said.

Marina continues to do its mission of leading a progressive maritime administration for safer people, safer ships, and a cleaner environment.

During the anniversary celebration, Marina highlighted its accomplishments for the year 2021. Marina remained steadfast in rendering quality service to the Filipino seafarers, and maritime stakeholders amid the global health crisis.

Empedrad presented the roadmap of Marina or the Strategic Voyage Plan 2028 that will execute the plans and priority programs of the Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP). "Without the Voyage plan, we cannot implement all the programs stated in the MIDP. Every individual or employee of Marina has a work to do to execute the plans on our Voyage Plan," he added.

Marina's Voyage Plan outlines the six-year organizational development strategy that focuses on accelerating the integrated and rational development of the maritime industry in the Philippines and its dream of aggressively instituting good governance in its existing infrastructure and systems. The Voyage Plan will be subjected to audit by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA).

Digitalization and innovation

Marina has maximized the automation and digitalization of the systems and processes to speed up its service aligned with the provisions of Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

Marina initiates a blockchain-enabled automated certification system. This aims to create an information system that will integrate the existing information systems that are being used by different Marina service units/offices. It institutionalized a highly efficient information system for Marina and its stakeholders.

In the 10-year MIDP, which addressed the upgrading of domestic shipping in support of the nautical highway development, Marina comes up with rules and regulations to modernize and upgrade the domestic fleet.

Marina promotes the use of modern ship design and technologically improved alternative hull materials as well as adopting safer sea service.

"More than 60 percent of our domestic fleet which is all wooden-hulled ships will be converted to a recreational boat that will be deployed in the various tourist destination areas in the country," Empedrad said.

Marina has imposed restrictions on the acquisition of passenger ships. It sets limits on the importation and bareboat chartering (BBC) of vessels aged less than 20 years old and more than 500 GT in size. The ships must be classed by the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). This year, Marina will also issue policy relative to age, size and IACS-classed requirements for cargo vessels.

Marina encourages domestic shipping companies to modernize and upgrade their ships by providing incentives to brand new IACS-classed ships to be deployed in major sea routes such as Western and Eastern Nautical Highways like Batangas to Calapan, Roxas to Caticlan (under Western Nautical Highway), and Matnog to Allen and Liloan to Lipata (under Eastern Nautical Highway).

Empedrad said Marina has successfully replaced 60 percent of the wooden-hulled vessels, giving passengers better and safer sea transport service.

Marina said the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) agreed to finance the shipowners who want to modernize their fleet. "We will enter a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with DBP to provide a long-term loan of up to 25 years and we will give incentives to shipowners who want to acquire ships to serve our routes," he said.

The DBP will formulate and design financing programs to assist shipyards, shipping companies, cooperatives and its members for maritime-related investments. The MOA signing is expected this June.

Marina is pushing for shipbuilding and shipbreaking and will consult the stakeholders on the needed ancillary service to support the industry.

During the Duterte administration, a total of 19 routes were opened since 2020 and 245 seaport improvement and development projects were completed.

Routes opened during Duterte's administration

In 2021, the routes opened were Batangas Port - Estancia Port, Iloilo — Polambato Port, Bogo, Cebu City, Lucena City, Quezon — Calapan CIty, Oriental Mindoro and vice versa, Pio Duran, Albay to Claveria, Masbate v.v., San Andres, Quezon to Masbate City, Masbate v.v., Matnog, Sorsogon — Maya, Daanbantayan Cebu — Bogo, Cebu and v.v., San Juan (Cabalian), Southern Leyte — Lipata, Surigao City, San Andres, Quezon — Dumaguit, Aklan v.v., Castilla, Sorsogon — Allen, Northern Samar v.v., Bulan, Sorsogon — Maya, Daanbantayan Cebu — Bogo, Cebu and v.v., Castilla, Sorsogon — Maya, Daanbantayan, Cebu - Bogo, Cebu and v.v., Castilla, Sorsogon — San Isidro, Northern Samar and v.v..

In 2022, Maantangan, E.B. Magalona Neg. Occ. to Bay - Ang, Ajuy Iloilo and Vice Versa and Talisay City, Cebu - Getafe, Bohol routes were opened.

Marina strives to rationalize the routes and solve the problems of port congestion. The Maritime Route Rationalization and Information System (MARIS) project of Marina was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and developed by the University of the Philippines (UP). This project enables Marina to estimate the number of vessels required per route done by a route capacity measurement system. It identifies the number of possible trips, occupancy and perceived profitability of the fleet in a selected route. This project will be pilot tested this year in some routes under the Philippine Nautical Highway or routes with congested traffics.

Marina works to improve the way it regulates and supervises the domestic shipping industry. Marina issues policies and introduces projects that will assist in improving the regulatory and supervisory functions of Marina Regional Offices (MROs), as well as the developmental functions of the Central Office Service Units.

It issued Administrative Order (AO), delegating all regulatory and supervisory functions to all MROs to reduce the processing time of all applications processed by Marina.

With the delegation of the processing of all applications to MROs, Central Office Service Units will perform oversight functions that will monitor and assess the MROs delegated functions to improve Marina services, as well as review and formulate new policies for its improvement.

Incentives and endorsements

Marina endorsed to the Board of Investments (BOI) the grant of incentives under the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), such as the six-year income tax holiday and duty-free importation of brand new IACS-classed ships.

The vessels that will be granted Pioneer status will be provided incentives such as protection of investment in the pioneering route and a 50% discount on all fees and charges including the annual tonnage fee (ATF) for six years.

By granting a RORO missionary status, vessels will be deployed in routes with no existing operation. The vessels which obtained the missionary status will have the protection of route for five years and will be granted a 50% discount on all fees and charges including ATF for one year.

Other notable accomplishments

Worth mentioning is Marina's PRIME-HRM Level 2 Bronze Award from the Civil Service Commission (CSC). It undertook the vaccination program for thousands of Filipino seafarers. Marina conducted speedy processing of seafarers' licenses and established the crew change hubs as it recognised the seafarers as key workers Recently, it inaugurated the Maritime Training Institute (MarTI) in Bacolod. Marina also wins the war against corruption.

Unfinished tasks

As for the country's response to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) report, Marina shared its 200-page document entitled, 2022 Philippine Response — our strategic actions in addressing the EMSA Audit.

Empedrad said Marina was able to provide a comprehensive strategic correction to the European Commission assessment report, which "took 14 years to come up with a 280-page report that addresses the issues of EMSA and raises our standards in the implementation of the STCW Convention."

"The contents of the report substantially addressed the issues of EMSA. It does not only address the issues of EMSA, it also raised the level of our compliance to the STCW," he said.

Marina was able to beat the 10 March 2022 deadline set by the European Commission (EC) for the submission of the PH corrective actions on maritime issues.

Marina still has more projects that need to accomplish such as providing other incentives to the following: Amendment of RA 9295 restoring the 12 percent VAT exemption on importation of ships; and

Amendment of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN Law), exempting the domestic shipping companies on the excise tax of their fuel consumed by stakeholders during its operations.

With the amendment of the Public Service Act (PSA), which aims to modernize the domestic shipping industry. Marina will help draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and assure local shipowners that Marina would protect them and provide assistance to help them compete against foreign investors joining the inter-island trade.

On March 21, 2022, President Duterte signed RA 11659, which allows up to 100m percent foreign ownership of companies engaged in so-called public services such as telecommunications, shipping, air carriers, railway, and subways to attract foreign investments into public services.

Shipowners in domestic shipping fear the new law would be detrimental to their businesses and expect these would be gradually taken over by foreign investors.

"We will help our domestic shipyards, so they can increase profitability. To enable domestic shipping lines to compete with foreign ships, we will give incentives to domestic shipowners," he said.

"In the end, commuters will benefit from the good competition. We can provide ships in all islands which will improve the transport of goods and will lower the prices of commodities. We will draft the IRR and I hope we can finish before my term ends," he added

Grateful to serve

Marina, as an organization has a new structure that will increase the manpower from 800 to 2,200 by 2024.

"We devolved all the regulatory functions to the regional offices, which will bring the service to our stakeholders in their respective regions. They don't have to come here. They just have to come to the Marina regional offices," Empedrad said.

With the new administration, Empedrad said, "All I can say is, if I am given another chance to serve as Marina administrator, then, we will raise our ambitions higher because I believe, the hope for our country to achieve economic progress is the development of the maritime industry."

"I would like to express my congratulations to all of you. If you are not with me, I won't be able to do my job. It is an honor and privilege to work with you in serving the Filipino people and our maritime nation," he ended.