PH secures seat in IMO Council reelection

Members of the Philippines delegation to the IMO Council deliberation.

As posted by The Manila Times on December 06, 2023

THE Philippines continues to hold its position among major maritime nations as it secured reelection in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council last Dec. 1, 2023, at the IMO Headquarters in London.

The Philippines was reelected under Category C for the 2024-2025 biennium during the 3rd Session of the IMO Assembly.

It received 136 votes from the IMO Member States, elevating its rank from 16th in 2021 to 7th this year.

Category C is composed of 20 states that have special interest in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista emphasized the nation’s commitment to contributing to the maritime industry.

“We believe our reelection will allow us to continue contributing to the maritime industry, not just as a top provider of top-caliber seafarers, but also at promoting safe and secure shipping operations, geared towards growth, modernization, resiliency, and sustainability,” Bautista said.

In his candidature statement, Ambassador Teodoro Locsin Jr. emphasized gender equality and the Philippines’ commitment to promoting the empowerment and growing role of women in the maritime industry.

Even as the majority of the sector lauded this achievement, a group of industry stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction over the country’s reelection to a category that it has been holding since 1997.

The Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA) Maritime Group clarified these concerns.

Iris Baguilat, chairman of ALMA, said the “category” signifies different classifications of maritime nations.

“It is not a hierarchy of importance with Category C being the least,” she said.

Baguilat explained that the Categories are classifications that highlight the primary maritime interests of a country.

“Category A is for owning significant vessel tonnage; it is about ship owning. Category B is about having a substantial cargo volume; it is about the quantity of imported and exported cargo. Category C is for maritime services, labor included.

“This [reelection] highlights our primary maritime interest, given our current significance on manpower rather than owning ships or trading cargoes. This achievement is a testament to our influence and importance in the global maritime community,” Baguilat said.

She also affirmed that should the Philippines wish to be elected in a different category, it should first strengthen either its ship-owning or international seaborne trade.

“ALMA extends our congratulations to DoTR and Marina for our country’s successful reelection to IMO Category C. This continued recognition underscores our nation’s importance as a major labor supplier in the maritime sector,” she said.

The Council is the executive organ of the IMO responsible for supervising the work of the Organization.

The Philippines has been part of the IMO Council since 1997.

The country’s reelection to the IMO Council provides the Philippines with voting rights, a venue to promote Filipino seafarers, a Philippine ship registry, shipbuilding, and other maritime sectors in the maritime world.

The successful outcome was made possible through the sustained and collaborative campaign efforts from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of United Nations and International Organizations and the Philippine Embassy in London, the Department of Transportation, the Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority, PAMTCI/PTC and other supporting entities.