EDITORIAL - Roadmap for the maritime industry

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Roadmap for the maritime industry

In an archipelago of 7,641 islands, development of a maritime industry has been a necessity since pre-colonial times. The effort, however, can use a major boost. Several countries with sizeable coastlines developed modern shipbuilding industries decades ago. Today the world’s top three are in Asia: China, South Korea and Japan.

With over 100 shipyards, the Philippines is ranked among the world’s top 10 countries in terms of commercial shipbuilding, employing tens of thousands of full-time workers. Up to 90 percent of the activities in the industry, however, involve mainly ship repair, maintenance, upgrading and refurbishing. Outside of commercial shipbuilding, the country also cannot produce the ships needed by the navy and coast guard for efficiently patrolling and enforcing national sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

Domestic shipbuilders have cited the lack of local suppliers for the needed parts that meet international standards. These shipbuilding inputs are currently being imported mostly from Japan, South Korea and China.

President Marcos has approved a 10-year roadmap to make the domestic maritime industry nationally integrated, environmentally sustainable and globally competitive. Executive Order No. 55 signed on Feb. 8 adopts the Maritime Industry Development Plan, which aims to modernize and expand domestic shipbuilding, produce a strong merchant marine fleet and develop a highly competitive maritime workforce. The MIDP, drawn up by the Maritime Industry Authority, also aims to enhance maritime transport safety, which remains a major problem in the country.

The Philippines is one of the top sources of seamen in global shipping. Compliance with global standards of training and accreditation, however, must be guaranteed to ensure continuing and expanded demand for Filipino seafarers. The family of President Marcos’ secretary of agriculture is in the shipping industry. So is the head of the President’s private sector advisory council. They can brief him on what the industry needs.

Executive Order No. 55 stresses the importance of the shipping industry and the need to achieve the full potential of the Philippines as a maritime nation. Beyond approving the Maritime Industry Development Plan, a serious effort is needed to attain its objectives.

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