PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday vowed to bolster the country’s maritime industry through a development plan that will support seafarers, modernize domestic shipping, improve ports, and enhance transport safety and security.
“While we already hold a dominant position in the world of global shipping, I certainly believe that we can do more especially here at home,” he said during the Philippine Maritime Industry Summit at the Manila Hotel streamed live on Facebook.
He cited the need to provide development programs for Filipino seafarers, who occupy a significant role in the global maritime industry as well as to the local economy.
“Our seafarers provide quality service across the globe and contribute to our nation-building efforts,” he said.
The Philippines is the world’s main source of maritime manpower, representing 25% of global seafarers, the president said. Seafarers sent $6.71 billion in remittances last year.
The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Department of Trade and Industry presented their eight-point development plan that seeks to ensure a future-ready maritime workforce.
The Maritime Industry Development Plan will serve as a roadmap towards modernizing the industry.
“As we all know, a thriving maritime industry translates to a more conducive economic environment and a smooth influx of investments and facilitation of trade in the country,” Transportation Undersecretary for the Maritime Sector Elmer Francisco U. Sarmiento said at the same event.
Mr. Marcos, during his visit to Brussels for the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in December, ordered the creation of an advisory board that would address concerns relating to Filipino seafarers.
The proposed advisory council will be made up of representatives from various government agencies with the goal of preventing job losses among almost 600,000 Filipino seafarers worldwide.
The Philippines was given three months from the creation of the advisory board by the European Commission to remedy all the deficiencies pointed out by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Mr. Marcos said upon his return from Belgium.
EMSA raised issues on the country’s compliance with European Union (EU) standards following an inspection in March last year.
The EU agency noted that almost 50,000 Filipino seafarers working in European vessels could lose their jobs if the Philippines does not address its deficiencies.
“I urge all concerned agencies to pursue a whole of government approach to effectively implement the Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028 as well as to continue communicating with member states of the international maritime organization and the EU committee on safe seas,” Mr. Marcos said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez