In welcoming the new year, there is in everyone’s prayer to the Almighty for the Covid-19 menace to be purged. Surely there is that whisper in everyone’s heart the wish for the safety of family, friends, and acquaintance — amidst the threat of faster transmission of the virus. The threat is real as news of high infection rates is continuously being flashed on television screens and the various social media platforms. No one is spared the risk of infection except those few who were reported to have received the vaccine shots, though acrimoniously, and now being publicly denounced.

Notwithstanding the challenges brought about by the pandemic, there is no reason to stop from carrying on with the work we are commissioned and acceded to do. For the employed, be it in the public sector or private employment, this means being thankful for the job yet apprehensive on how well they can protect themselves from the virus as “working remotely” could be withdrawn at any time. Many realize the limitations of the “work-from-home” arrangement and the designation of a virtual workplace in terms of the delay and lack of getting spontaneous feedback and response to matters requiring immediate attention.

Maritime industry outlook

The Year 2020 ended with the optimism that the catalog of activities under the Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP) will be pursued relentlessly in the coming days. Stakeholders, both in government and industry agreed to closely work together to realize the MIDP targets. Given the limitations of doing work remotely, managing and tracking the progress of the tasks may not be easy; however, it is always best to express confidence things will go well.

On top of the MIDP, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has to deal with the day-to-day exercise of its regulatory functions which are by no means easy. Besides, the EMSA audit remains in the balance, although there is no shadow of a doubt the Philippine government and industry will be able to deliver on the expectations of the European flag States as to the competence of Filipino seafarers. On the other hand, government and industry must sustain the dialogue on improving governance and the delivery of maritime education and training.

It is admitted that MARINA is confronted with a myriad of issues that demands a determined and persistent leadership typified by Administrator Empedrad. The MARINA Administrator’s ability to rally the support of the various maritime stakeholders is quite admirable. One important step which the MARINA Administrator may seriously consider though is to further reduce the priority programs under the MIDP and determine what could be completed in the short- and middle-terms. He may have thought of the MIDP programs as both impressive and innovative but pursuing these may also mean MARINA dissipating its time and efforts doing an elaborate mixture of activities which in the long-run could be jettisoned.

How about taking counsel from Steve Jobs who once said “innovation means the ability to say no to a thousand things.”