Stakeholders welcome reformed body on intl conventions

(From left) Dr. Conrado Oca, president of the Association Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines; Iris Baguilat, president of Döhle Seafront Crewing; and Dr. Glenn Blasquez, president of the Association of Technical Schools in Manila and Southern Institute of Maritime Studies Training Center. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS


THE largest seafarer’s union in the country, along with other maritime stakeholders, has welcomed the recent move by President Rodrigo Duterte to reform the government body responsible for the ratification of international maritime conventions.

Executive Order 159 reconstitutes the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on the Ratification and Implementation of Maritime Conventions (ICCRIMC) and renamed it as the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee to Facilitate the Ratification and Accession to and Implementation of Maritime Conventions (ICCFRAIMC).

ICCRIMC was created in 2015 under the Department of Transportation and Communications, now the Department of Transportation, to monitor developments and consider new international maritime conventions for ratification, including measures to satisfy their respective requirements, through research, monitoring, and coordination with other government agencies.

The newly reformed body is tasked to do the same, albeit with more specific responsibilities for members.

EO 159, signed by President Duterte last December 28, appoints a representative from the Transportation department as the chairman of the body and a representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs as the vice-chairman.

Members will be composed of representatives from the following agencies: Department of Science and TechnologyMaritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports AuthorityCebu Port Authority, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau, University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, and UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology.

“This issuance is a clear manifestation of the government’s steadfast commitment and support to the maritime labor and shipping industries, both local and international,” the Association Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (Amosup) said in a statement.

“We believe that Executive Order 159 is indeed the integrated approach toward the country’s international maritime development bringing into fore, among others, the need to study new international maritime conventions and instruments for ratification that would benefit [our] seafarers, the industry, and the country,” it continued.

This is affirmed by Iris Baguilat, president of Döhle Seafront Crewing, the Philippine crewing arm of Germany-based Peter Döhle Group and founding member of the Association of Licensed Manning Agencies.

Baguilat said this would lead to the ratification of more conventions that can benefit Filipino seafarers and the entire maritime industry.

The committee will also oversee the development and adoption of a National Work Program (NWP) to chart timelines and determine the frequency of meetings, assign agency roles and responsibilities, and ensure the eventual implementation and enforcement of adopted instruments, consistent with the country’s overall maritime strategy.

“Our government is serious in being part of implementing maritime conventions and finally with this new inter-agency committee, it is now clear which government agencies are involved and who will chair the committee,” says Glenn Mark Blasquez, president of the Association of Technical Schools in Manila and Southern Institute of Maritime Studies Training Center.

Blasquez observed that it took time in the past to ratify maritime conventions.

“Some agencies are not usually participating. There are times when they are not even familiar with the Convention being discussed. The meetings were drawn-out until the current administration is replaced by a new one with different priority projects. Then, the meeting for maritime conventions will have to take the backseat and start from scratch again,” he said.

The reformed committee will also be tasked to conduct a national interest analysis and study its implications on the established maritime operations in the country. Blasquez said it has been a long time since this was conducted last by the government.

“We hope that EO 159 will help expedite the review and ratify immediate Conventions that are long overdue for the protection of seafarers, the maritime environment, and maritime security in our country.”

“There are many International Maritime Conventions that we need to ratify and one of these are the Cape Town Agreement and the STCW-F Convention. It will protect our fishermen and halt illegal fishing in our country,” he continued.

AMOSUP, meanwhile, has committed to coordinating and working with ICCFRAIMC, and its attached agencies. “The industry has thrived and evolved to what it is now through tripartism,” it said.

The funding requirements for the participation and implementation of relevant activities will be charged against existing appropriations of the members of the committee.