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DOTr mulls maritime sector modernization

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is considering modernizing the maritime sector similar to the jeepney modernization program by asking small shipowners to form a cooperative in order to qualify for bank loans and purchase brand new and safer vessels.

Transportation Undersecretary for maritime sector Elmer Francisco Sarmiento said there is a need to standardize the structure of maritime safety regulations to make it attuned to International Convention Safety of Life at Sea.

Sarmiento made the proposal on the sidelines of the 2023 Maritime Safety Summit hosted by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on Nov. 15.

Maritime safety is all about saving lives, having safer ships and cleaner oceans.

Numerous maritime incidents in the country have resulted in the loss of lives and property as well as damage to the environment.

One way of meeting international standards is for shipowners to purchase brand new vessels.

The DOTr is aware that buying a new ship requires a large amount of money, and although the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines are extending loans to small shipowners, only a few availed themselves of the offer.

Sarmiento said some banks require strict documentation and collateral, making it difficult for small shipowners like those used to ferry tourists to comply and upgrade the quality of their vessels.

“We need to raise our maritime rules and regulations to international rules. But I know it is very tough and challenging because we have to do what the land sector had done with the modernization of the jeepney. We have to modernize our fleet also. That is important,” Sarmiento said.

“We have also thought of copying the example set by the land sector that consolidated (the jeepney operators and bought bigger vehicles). The small shipowners could consolidate themselves and make their cooperative or corporation strong so they could borrow money (from banks),” he added.

Sarmiento said that just like in vehicles, electric ships are now available in the market.

Meanwhile, the Marina released the resolution of the 2023 Maritime Safety Summit, which includes the establishment of a search and rescue