You are here

Domestic shipping lines seek reforms in maritime laws

Domestic shipping lines seek reforms in maritime laws
Genivi Verdejo August 17, 2022

The Philippine Interisland Shipping Association (PISA) and Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) have asked for a review and amendments of maritime policies that burden the domestic shipping industry.

PISA and PLSA have identified laws and policies that need to be amended and submitted their issues to the Department of Transportation maritime sector.

Republic Act No. 11659 or "An act amending Commonwealth Act No. 146 otherwise known as the Public Service Act (PSA), as amended" is waiting for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

This law was signed by former President Duterte allowing up to 100% foreign ownership of public services in the country. Several maritime groups and foreign chambers supported Duterte's move, as this will help modernize the country's shipping industry.

However, PISA and PLSA wanted the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to spearhead the re-inclusion of domestic shipping in the definition of the public utility to restore the 60% Filipino ownership requirement under the Constitution. "In the alternative, the declaration by the President that domestic shipping is a "critical infrastructure" that requires reciprocity before any foreigner can own more than 50% of a domestic shipping company.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Low Sulfur Implementation (MARPOL 73/78 ANNEX VI) is for implementation by January 1, 2025. The Philippines, a member of the IMO Council under Category C for Biennium 2022 to 2023 has been compliant with IMO regulations. IMO's new limit on the sulfur content in the fuel oil used onboard ships was aimed at improving air quality, preserving the environment, and protecting human health.

The group complained that the cost of low sulfur fuel necessary to achieve the sulfur emission prescribed under MARPOL 73/78 ANNEX VI was three times more expensive than the present high sulfur fuel oil

"Can Marina prescribe an alternative policy for domestic ships? It is recommended to include this policy for further review and evaluation with emphasis on the provision of government incentives under the strategic investment priority plan (SIPP) of the Board of Investment (BOI) under the CREATE law, and financial support to aid shipping companies in their compliance," they claimed.

On the compulsory pilotage on all public and private ports under Executive Order No. 1080, they requested Marina to accredit ship masters of domestic ships as pilots under certain conditions. They also wanted to update the Philippine Merchant Marine Rules and Regulations (PMMRR) to reduce the minimum manning complement of certain types of vessels.

They further asked for streamlining of government transactions and document requirements to avoid duplication, repetitive and unnecessary submissions. Some of their issues were synchronizing the validity and effectivity of all vessel permits and licenses reckoned from the vessel's drydocking schedule.

They asked Marina to collate all vessel permits and licenses and determine a common validity period based on the vessel's drydocking schedule and enhance its electronic capability for submission of required documents, provision of e-services, and receipt of e-payment.

Other issues raised were accreditation of Classification Societies for Domestic Trade (MC MS 2020-01), ship security under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, on-board training (OBT) of cadets, Oil Pollution Management Fund (OPMF), age cap on importation of passenger ships (MARINA Circular No. 2017-04), Board of Investment (BOI) Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP) under the "Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises" (CREATE) Act [R.A. No. 11534]—and proposed memorandum circular (MC) on the "revised schedule of administrative fines and penalties.

Christopher Pastrana, president of Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation said, "they (government) will address the issues accordingly and the group received positive support from both agencies and DOTr undersecretary for the Maritime Sector Elmer Francisco Sarmiento."