Preparations for the holding of the National Maritime Summit are underway with Government and industry putting together a program that will muster stakeholders to high-level discussions towards crafting a national maritime agenda. Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade announced the convening of the April 2017 summit during the Philippine Association of Maritime Institutions (PAMI) Convention last February 10.
To set off preparations, C/E Marcial Amaro, Administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), held initial discussions with the convenors of the Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP). The Summit’s theme of “Achieving inclusive and Sustainable Socio-Economic Growth” highlights the role of the maritime industry and the various sectors constituting it, as a major economic tool in achieving national progress.
Used to being primed of sectoral news and issues, we get the impression ship operations in domestic routes as entirely detached from those who are engaged in international voyages, or that shipbuilding and repair is a stand alone sector which has no direct impact on port operations. Seafaring, undoubtedly an important sector of the Philippine maritime industry is given priority attention in government policies as compared to the fishing sector with its precarious standing of being seen as a maritime industry sub-sector, but oftentimes considered as belonging to the agriculture and food security sectors. One can only surmise each of these sectors could be effective in their respective milieus regardless of the absence of the others.
Yet close scrutiny of the maritime industry reveals the interconnection among the various sectors, if not the indispensability of one to the others. It is from this premise that the National Maritime Summit is proceeding—merging the unique strengths of each sector in order to create a cohesive maritime industry moving forward as one.
Administrator Amaro’s enthusiasm was evident as he disclosed readiness to present MARINA’s strategic plans and looks forward to matching these with the industry roadmap. It is encouraging indeed as MARINA confirms its intention to convene stakeholders’ consultations in order to align Government plans and program with those of the industry. He considers the planned summit as the most auspicious occasion.
Sensing Government’s continuing disregard for an industry which posts a considerable contribution to the national economy and boosts employment opportunities for many Filipinos, stakeholders at the close of 2015 called on presidential candidates to include in their platform of government the formulation and adoption of a national maritime agenda. It was an appeal that resonated across the various maritime sectors: For the incoming government to adopt a policy framework that draws on the endowments of an archipelagic nation and harnessing the benefits offered by a blue economy.
There is much expectation the National Maritime Summit will lead to the actualization of the pledge to adopt a national maritime agenda as articulated by President Rodrigo Duterte during the Presidential Forum held in Davao City in January 2016. The President’s commitment in that Forum was earnestly pursued and is still gaining support from many sectors.
As we look forward to the unfolding of this important event, a parallel appeal is addressed for all maritime stakeholders to join and actively participate in drawing up the national maritime agenda.