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Maritime safety standards compliance needed

As Typhoon Tisoy (international name Kammuri) continues to batter the country, Senator Win Gatchalian calls for the enhancement of maritime safety to avoid a repeat of maritime accidents in the past.


BALABAC ISLAND, PALAWAN, Philippines – A child whiles away time as seafarers work on a boat at this remote island’s pier some 347 kilometers south of provincial capital city Puerto Princesa, 25 Aug. 2019 file. Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for the enhancement of maritime safety to avoid a repeat of maritime accidents in the past. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Gatchalian made the call as he seeks to review the compliance to the maritime safety standards and maritime transportation laws set by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to ensure the security and safety of daily maritime passengers especially during typhoons.

“Hindi na natin kailangan pa na hintayin na mayroon nanamang barkong lumubog sa kasagsagan ng bagyo para i-review kung nakakacomply ba tayo sa maritime safety standards na sinet ng Marina. Dapat automatic na yan dahil buhay ng ating mga kababayan ang nakataya sa tuwing naglalayag sila sa karagatan,” Gatchalian said.

“It is crucial that the Philippines maintains a high standard in ensuring the safety of passengers travelling by water as well as adequate protocols to implement the same,” he added.

The lawmaker recently filed Senate Resolution No. 220 (SRN 220) which seeks to direct the appropriate Senate Committee to conduct such inquiry “with the end view of enacting amendments to existing legislations that will enhance protocols on the safety and quality of passenger transport services, provide for effective supervision and regulation of all water transport in the country and ensure proper mobilization of resources for necessary maritime transportation infrastructure.”

Data from the Philippine Ports Authority show that passenger traffic in ports across the country grew by 5.68% from 72,438,609 passengers in 2017 to 76,798,175 passengers in 2018.

Gatchalian cited the country’s archipelagic composition as the primary reason behind Filipinos’ patronage of maritime vessels, such as the Roll-on Roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels, ferries, fast crafts and motorized bancas. This, despite several incidents at sea that have threatened the lives of passengers, even resulting to death.

However, there had been 922 incidents of engine trouble, 496 incidents of capsizing, and 427 incidents of grounding from 2011 to 2016, according to Gatchalian, citing a recent MARINA report. Other maritime incidents include collisions, sinking, ramming and fire.

Gatchalian took note that in August 2019, 31 people were killed when three boats capsized in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait.

The senator said that the growing number of maritime incidents is indicative of the inadequacy of the safety standards set by MARINA and/or lapses in its implementation.

“These policy and implementation drawbacks support the need to review MARINA’s capability and capacity to enforce maritime safety standards laws to ensure that we can accord the protection needed by our people and that we put up the necessary improvements in transport infrastructure that will support the provision of safe and secured shipping services,” Gatchalian stressed.

“It is imperative for the Senate to review policies set forth by the Executive as it annually deliberates on the government’s expenditure plan for certain programs, including support for maritime transport infrastructure,” he added.