Cebu News

Maritime firms told: Protect passengers, environment

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — In the age of technological advancement, maritime industry players have been urged to adapt to changes but to ensure that the safety of passengers and the environment is still a priority.

This was the message of Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Elmer Francisco Sarmiento in his keynote message yesterday during the opening of the three-day 2nd Cebu Maritime Expo & Boat Show 2024.

“As we embrace a technologically advanced era for our maritime industry, let us bear in mind that we do not just want to achieve efficiency, but also a safe and secured sea transportation for our people, without burning a hole in their pockets and in our ozone layer, as human advancement should never be at the expense of environment protection,” said Sarmiento, speaking on behalf of DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista.

Sarmiento stressed the proposed three priorities in promoting the vision of a green and advanced maritime industry, which are ship decarbonization, shipbreaking innovations, and artificial intelligence.

As such, Sarmiento said the DOTr is eyeing massive and radical changes in the industry as they acknowledge that private sector partnership is an effective formula in achieving major transport developments.

He said that they need the competence of marine engineers and naval architects to strengthen once again the shipbuilding and ship repair industry in the country, as well as the capability of IT professionals in digitalizing all possible maritime systems.

Further, Sarmiento said that DOTr is one with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in realizing the instruction by President Bongbong Marcos in making tourism, once again, a priority.

Sarmiento said that on the inter-island connectivity, another major program lined up in the maritime sector is the further development of the Philippine Nautical Highway System with the goal to connect the major islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

He said that DOTr is working on additional five RoRo Port Cluster Development Projects under this administration's term and hoping they can finally include this in their Department's Budget for the year 2025 and so on.

At present, he said they have implemented a total of 402 port projects from 2015 to present, and around 250 of these have already been completed.

DOTr is also eyeing to finish an additional 200 more ports by the year 2028 to further bridge the regions and hasten economic activities.

Marlon Barrientos, DOT-7 senior tourism operations officer speaking on behalf of DOT Undersecretary Shalimar Tamano, said partnership with DOTr and the maritime industry is vital as this supports their core principles, which include connectivity, convenience and equality.

This, Barrientos said, reminds them of their “collective duty to create positive experiences of our most valuable stakeholders, our travelers, and the many tourism communities across the country.”

He disclosed that DOT has been coordinating with local and international airlines to develop more routes into the country.

With this, they hope to open up more of Visayas region's gateways, particularly in the Mactan Cebu International Airport, which aims for easier access to the islands to help boost tourism and help attract more investment in the region.

“Safety is also a pillar in tourism so the Department of Tourism has tapped the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to ensure that our destinations are safe for tourists, even as we implement our Tourist Police program to train policemen, barangay tanods and other force multipliers on safety issues,” Barrientos said.

Meanwhile, Engr. Raymond Puso, president of Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers (SONAME) said that the gathering is a fitting venue that mirrors the potential and the expansive aspirations of the Philippine maritime industry.

Puso said as they embrace the theme, "From Tourism, Promoting Safety to Innovations: The Philippine Maritime Landscape," they are reminded of their commitment to not only enhance but to transform the maritime sector through ingenuity and concerted effort.

“Maritime activity has been a cornerstone of the Philippine economy and culture for centuries, driven by our unique archipelagic makeup. Today, the global stage is witnessing an era of unprecedented change in maritime logistics, technology, and safety protocols. Here in Cebu, and across the Philippines, we are poised to not just participate in this evolution, but to lead it,” said Puso.

Puso added that over the next three days, the expo will unveil the latest in shipbuilding technologies, innovative maritime safety equipment, and breakthroughs in eco-friendly marine operations.

“We will explore the rich potential of maritime tourism which beckons to both local and international markets, offering a glimpse into the beauty and vibrancy of our islands and seas,” he said.

Puso said that the event aims to push for the transformation of Cebu into a global hub for maritime excellence.

By fostering a collaborative environment, he said they encourage the exchange of ideas and solutions that uphold the highest standards of safety and operational efficiency.

“Our commitment is to ensure that every vessel that sails from our ports not only meets but exceeds the expectations of the modern maritime world wherein safety is not just about adhering to regulations-it's about setting new benchmarks,” he added.

Moreover, Puso said that the expo is a platform for innovation wherein the dynamic landscape of maritime technology presents opportunities to enhance efficiency and sustainability.

“From propulsion technologies that reduce emissions to advanced navigational systems that ensure precise voyages, our focus is on pioneering developments that pave the way for a greener, more efficient maritime future. Let us use this platform not only to showcase our advancements but to set a course for future achievements,” he added.

He also hopes that discussions during the expo will inspire new projects, new collaborations, and new innovations that will carry the Philippine maritime sector into a new era of prosperity and recognition on the world stage.

“Together, let's sail towards a future marked by growth, safety, and innovation, creating a legacy that future generations will inherit and build upon,” Puso further said.

The three-day event is hosted in collaboration with SONAME and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), symbolizing a harmonious partnership aimed at driving maritime innovation and growth.

SONAME is the only professional association duly accredited with the Professional Regulations Commission of the Philippines composed of Filipino naval architects, marine engineers, and shipping and shipbuilding professionals.

The organizer said that convergence of maritime leaders and professionals underscores a collective effort to propel Cebu as a premier maritime hub, setting the stage for unprecedented growth and development within the industry.

The CME 2024 aligns with Cebu's roadmap for maritime primacy, aiming to generate economic benefits through maritime tourism, stimulate interest, and attract investments.

The expo also aims to revitalize Cebu's local boating industry through sustainable tourism and best practices, leveraging the presence of leading shipbuilding firms in the province.

With a strong synergy between private and government agencies, CME 2024 aspires to steer Cebu toward becoming a global navigation destination and a fully integrated maritime hub. — (FREEMAN)

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