• ‘Close loopholes in maritime security plans’


    Stricter implementation of the policy on International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) is needed in the government’s war against illegal drugs and terrorism as 90 percent of the country’s trade passes through its ports, National Maritime Safety and Security Agency (NAMSSA) Inc. said.

    NAMSSA Director-General Capt. Jesser Cordova made the statement following the abduction of the captain and the chief engineer of the passenger carrier Super Shuttle Roro 9 on March 23 in General Santos City by alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits.

    Cordova said this incident could have been prevented if a maritime-security plan had been implemented in all ships and ports, noting such a plan had been largely neglected.

    “There is a loophole in the of security plan being implemented by the government, because international criminals, like drug smugglers and peddlers, terrorists and the like, utilize most of our maritime ports, vessels and the huge maritime territory of the country in committing their crimes,” Cordova said.

    He explained the maritime security problem in the country can be resolved if the government would implement two executive orders issued by then-Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III.

    Cordova said that in 2004, Arroyo signed Executive Order (EO) 311, “Designating the Office of Transport Security as the Single Authority Responsible for the Security of the Transportation Systems of the Country, Expanding its Powers and Functions and for other Purposes.”

    Section 1B of the EO clearly states that in the case of sea transport and maritime infrastructure, by ensuring that the International Maritime Organization-International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (IMO-ISPS) must be implemented, and that a National Security Program for Sea Transport and Maritime Infrastructure is formulated, developed and implemented.

    In 2016 Aquino issued EO 197, which is an expounded version of EO 311, stating that the Philippines is a contracting party to the 1974 International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas), as amended, including Chapter XI-2 thereof, on Special Measures to Enhance Maritime Security, which adopts the ISPS Code.

    ISPS is an international framework through which governments, shipping companies, and port authorities can cooperate to detect and deter acts that threaten security of the maritime-transportation system.

    Cordova stressed that continuous and sustained effort on the strict implementation of the ISPS Code, and awareness of security concerns among ports and personnel will assure safe and secured port facilities.


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