A partylist lawmaker is pushing the Congress to approve his measure granting the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) full authority to set policies, rules and guidelines in accrediting only one local classification society in the domestic shipping industry.
Rep. Jesulito Manalo of the ANGKLA partylist group said his measure aims to ensure that all vessels, particularly “domestic fleets plying our internal waters, endure the tests of adequacy, reliability, stability, and of course, safety at all times."
Under Manalo’s House Bill 5223, organizations without a certificate of accreditation or authorization issued by MARINA shall not be authorized to undertake the classification of any domestic fleet.
“MARINA shall have the sole authority and prerogative to set the policies, rules, and guidelines to be followed in the accreditation of such local classification society,” Manalo said.
He said once MARINA finds that the accredited local classification society is not in compliance with its policies, rules and guidelines, it has the discretion to cancel and transfer such accreditation or authorization to any qualified local classification society, as it may deem fit, provided that there shall remain only one accredited classification society at any given time.
“The classing of vessels is then a quasi-public function involving the promotion of safety of life, property and the environment at sea. It is not a commercial undertaking but, habitually, a public service,” Manalo said.
“Unfortunately, however, with our country presently having a total of seven local classification societies accredited by MARINA, the rationale behind designating classification societies to rigidly monitor the reliability of domestic ships had been compromised," he added.
Manalo noted that the cutthroat competition among these societies has led to failures in enforcing safeguards, with ship owners being able to avoid critical repairs and maintenance by just changing class, relying on lower quality of surveyors due to sub-\standard wages and lack of training funding.
“With the present situation we face, we have lost sight of the important reality that maritime safety should be dealt only with the highest regard. Thus, the proposed measure is necessary to assist MARINA in fully implementing a positive and dynamic safety regime best left to technical experts in the classification and inspection of our domestic vessels," Manalo said.