The circular of the Maritime Safety Committee on the advice to Administrations, port State control authorities, companies, port terminals and masters regarding the SOLAS requirements for verified gross mass (VGM) of packed containers will become effective on 1 July 2016. MSC.1/Circ.1548 requires the VGM of packed container before loading on the ship to ensure the stability and safe operation of ships. The Philippine Ports Authority issued PPA AO No.04-2016 on the Supplemental Policy on Mandatory Weighing of Containers and RoRo Vehicles. The PPA Administrative Order was necessary as non-compliance with the SOLAS amendment on the VGM could result in Philippine exports not being loaded aboard ships.
* * *
The Legal Committee held its 103rd session last 8-10 June where it took up, among other agenda items, the facilitation of the entry into force and implementation of the 2010 Hazard and Noxious Substances (HNS) Convention and discussion of future work needed to ensure the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident. The Philippines should now consider its position on the HNS Convention that provides insurance coverage for pollution or accidental discharge of dangerous chemicals and other HNS substances into our marine environment. Furthermore, the POEA may need to get fully involved in the discussion on the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident as this affects the Filipino seafarer.
* * *
IMO has adopted the Polar Code and related amendments to make it mandatory under both SOLAS and MARPOL conventions. The Polar Code is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017. It aims to protect ships and people, both seafarers and passengers, from the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles. As a major supplier of seafarers, the Philippine maritime universities and training institutions should include in their curriculum or training manual a study of the Polar Code as another way of improving the brand of the Filipino seafarer. There are a few training centers in the Philippines that offer training for the polar routes in accordance with the IMO Polar Code.