Five weeks from now, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will be observing its 43rd foundation day and it is expected that preparations are underway to celebrate the first year of the agency under President Duterte’s administration. As in past administrations, government agencies must be preparing a scorecard of accomplishments for the year, which if remarkable enough may be cited in the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Several maritime administration areas of concern will be highlighted when drawing up Marina’s accomplishments during the first year of President Duterte’s six-year term. The activities undertaken, meetings attended, number of ships in the PH flag-registry, regulations adopted, revenue generated and other key results will most likely find their way to the list of accomplishments. The format of reporting as prescribed by government regulations is such as to allow ease in drawing inferences and conclusions, notwithstanding that other substantive achievements deserving mention may have to be omitted.
Marina capacity-building programs
The creation of Marina came at a time when realization of the archipelagic circumstance of the country was at its peak, therefore, the attempt to consolidate, under one agency, all efforts towards maximizing the contributions of the maritime industry as an economic tool. For this objective to succeed, maritime-functions were plucked out from various agencies in 1974 and placed under Marina through Presidential Decree 474.
PD 474 called for the need to develop and orient a team of public service officers who shall carry out the works required of a maritime administration. The creation of Marina at that time also helped regional and international maritime organizations identify with certainty target beneficiaries of technical assistance relating to the maritime field. Marina has, therefore, become the recipient of countless technical assistance support from maritime organizations, the most prominent and active of which is the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Likewise, the Philippines has been identified as a beneficiary country by developed maritime countries in the delivery of technical assistance support. Bilateral maritime partners of the country such as Japan, Norway, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States figured prominently during the early years of Marina, extending technical cooperation through funding, provision of technical experts and the conduct of training and seminars.
Capacity-building initiatives provided by these countries helped Marina in human resource and organizational development as the Philippines was poised to take its stake in the international maritime community. Marina technical officers attended diploma courses and short-term training on commercial shipping, shipping technology, maritime safety, and maritime law and administration sponsored in such countries as Norway, Japan and Germany. Marina also tapped technical organizations such as classification societies in providing training and expert advice in ship inspection, naval architecture, and audit mechanics. A number of Marina personnel took post-graduate courses at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden and the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta.
Indeed, the past 43 years of Marina is marked with extensive programs aimed at the continuous improvement of its capabilities as maritime administration. Marina was able to develop a pool of manpower trained in the various fields of maritime administration, which consists of technical, commercial, legal and managerial know-how.
As Marina prepares to submit its list of accomplishments to the President, let it be an auspicious occasion to mention the strength of the agency through its trained manpower. Information on the gains generated by the maritime industry should be punctuated with highlights of the contribution of the agency’s public service officers many of whom gained expertise from the goodwill of technical assistance. An iteration of the benefits that accrue to the country as a result of technical cooperation from bilateral and multilateral partners should be given as manifestation of success.
President Duterte has embarked on several state visits to countries which are known not only for their maritime tradition but also more importantly for their strength as maritime nations. The State visits should also be seen as an opportunity to express presidential appreciation to the host countries for their technical cooperation support in the maritime field. This is the least a grateful beneficiary country can do.