MARITIME SUMMIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivers a speech at the Philippine Maritime Industry Summit 2023 at The Manila Hotel, Manila on Tuesday (Feb. 28, 2023). Marcos underscored the need to make the maritime industry "once again a top priority." (PNA photo Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he believes that the country’s maritime sector should be given greater importance.

“Given that the Philippines is a maritime nation, I believe that it is time for us to make the maritime industry once again a top priority,” he said in his speech during the Philippine Maritime Industry Summit 2023 at the Manila Hotel in Manila.

Marcos said he recognized that the Philippines already holds a dominant position in the world of global shipping, but believes the country can “do more” in terms of harnessing seafarers’ potential.

“We already hold the most vital ingredient to success which is our seafarers. All we need to do now is to harness their knowledge, make use of their experience and localize our local industries to build an even stronger domestic maritime industry for the benefit of our people,” he added.

Citing government data, Marcos said the Philippines is the world’s primary source of maritime manpower, constituting 25 percent of the global seafarers and bringing in a total of USD6.71 billion in remittances in 2022.

He said there are nearly 16,000 registered domestic ships plying the nearly 1,300 inter-island shipping routes across the country as of Dec. 31, 2022.

There are almost a hundred Philippine registered overseas ships that yielded PHP30.75 million in tax collections in 2022, he added.

In regard to the local shipbuilding and ship repair sector, as of 2021, Marcos said there are 116 shipyards across the country that are registered with Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

Maritime industry dev’t plan

Meanwhile, Marcos lauded the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the MARINA for spearheading a summit that highlights the Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) 2028.

The plan aims to ensure the development and expansion of the Philippine merchant fleet and the advancement of a future-ready maritime human capital.

Marcos said the MIDP covers eight priority programs that include enhancing maritime transport safety and security, promoting environmental sustainability and implementing digitalization; modernizing, upgrading and expanding the domestic and overseas shipping industry, including the local shipbuilding and ship repair industry; promoting a highly-skilled and competitive maritime workforce; and adopting an effective and efficient maritime administration government system.

He said the MIDP will establish a system that aims to lessen the detrimental impacts of both natural and manmade eventualities as well as to prepare for the future and its contingencies that may affect the sector.

Honor and pride

Marcos also lauded the commitment of Filipino seafarers to bring honor and pride to the country by providing quality service across the globe and contributing to nation-building efforts.

He extended his gratitude to the officials and members of domestic and overseas shipping, ship-building and ship repair sectors.

Marcos likewise encouraged all government institutions and key stakeholders to collaborate, and cooperate to ensure the continued growth and development of the maritime sector.

“I also urge all concerned agencies to pursue a whole-of-government approach to effectively implement the MIDP 2028 as well as to continue communicating with member states of the international maritime organization and the EU committee on safe seas,” he added.

He expressed commitment that his administration will give its "unqualified support" in building a maritime industry that “will be looked upon with admiration by the region and the rest of world.”

“Together let us synergize all our efforts and harness the potential of this event and of the MIDP 2028. This is to provide better opportunities for our fellow Filipinos, to build a more progressive, sustainable and resilient maritime sector,” he said. (PNA)