The incoming President: towards a robust maritime industry?


It is not wrong to assume the overwhelming mandate given to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte comes from voters who find attachment to the sea. After all, majority of voters come from island provinces or coastal communities, or those though residents of landlocked provinces and municipalities are engaged in work and livelihood associated with the maritime industry. With the Filipinos’ affinity to the sea, it is not surprising they will support a candidate for President who commits to work for a healthy and sustainable maritime industry.

Perhaps it was a presaging for the incoming President as he was the only one among the presidential candidates who responded to the invitation of the Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP) for a dialogue. And all the MMP wanted was for him to be made aware of an industry that contributes much to the country’s economy, yet has not been given the attention it deserves. As he bared his platform for a corruption/crime/drug-free Philippines during the MMP-initiated “talakayan,” stakeholders endeavored to make sense on the bearing of these thematic programs to the maritime industry.

A corruption free Philippines means “ease of doing business” is assured, thus, grant of maritime license, certificate, permit or any similar document shall be undertaken with facility with no unnecessary burden imposed on the applicant/proponent. Fixers, long queues in seeking services from government agencies and under the table deals shall be things of the past. Consistency and predictability of maritime policies must be sustained; transparency in the formulation of rules through consultations and communication with stakeholders are properly observed. For its part, the private sector must at all times be mindful of its obligation in advancing public interest as they carry out their maritime business. Instead of “shortcuts,” policies and rules must be upheld by both regulators and their clientele.

A crime/drug-free Philippines will restore the confidence of the public in the government’s ability to provide a safe and peaceful community. Until the tough stance against crime and drugs was declared, imagining approaches to ports that are clear of thieves, drug peddlers and muggers is next to impossible. Now, there is good reason to be optimistic these can be realized with the (incoming) Presidential exhortation for all levels of government, from the barangay level up to national agencies, to get the work done. As the level of security in the country is raised, entrepreneurs and investors are encouraged. For an archipelagic country, it is most likely maritime related undertakings can attract investments and entrepreneurial interests. These will have positive impact on the country’s productivity which in turn stimulates economic growth.

I tried to sort out maritime reforms and changes based on the campaign promise of President-elect Duterte and all I can come up with are snippets on the meanings one can attach to his platform of corruption/drug/crime-free Philippines. Perhaps, stakeholders can try to draw up several other views and conclusions and from there endeavor to articulate their expectations based on the pledge made by the incoming Administration.

I assure you, it is an exercise worth your while.


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