ILOILO CITY – The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), together with partner government agencies and private stakeholders, pushes for the phasing-out of wooden-hulled ships and its replacement with technologically improved hull materials, during an institutional mechanism workshop with boat operators and associations in Iloilo and Guimaras yesterday, 22 August 2019.

MARINA OIC – Administrator Vice Admiral Narciso A Vingson Jr led the workshop by providing an opportunity for the local boat associations to raise their concerns regarding the phasing-out of wooden-hulled ships for the modernization of the domestic shipping industry.

Aside from the need for more developed port facilities and infrastructure, the stakeholders shared that the lack of financial resources to replace their wooden-hulled ships with modern units is a major challenge for domestic ship modernization.

Hence, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) expressed its full support to stakeholders by encouraging them to avail of its financing program known as CRUISE or Connecting Rural Urban Intermodal Systems Efficiently (CRUISE) that reinforces the development of an integrated and multimodal national transport and logistics system in the country, payable until 15 years.

However, eligible borrowers under the CRUISE financing program include: private corporations, government agencies, local government units (LGUs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), financial institutions, and cooperatives. Individual operators are not eligible.

With this, the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) encouraged the stakeholders to form a cooperative so they may explore other business ventures to further increase shared capital and enjoy tax exemption. The office also explained the step-by-step procedures, as well as the requirements of boat operators and associations to be accredited as a transport cooperative.

The Caticlan – Boracay Transport Multipurpose Cooperative, for one, has shared their success story of deploying 12 fiberglass boats to cater to approximately 15,000 daily passengers in the Caticlan – Boracay shipping route and how it helped them build their shared capital of 218 million pesos.

Meanwhile, the local government of Iloilo represented by Mayor Siegfredo Betita of Carles, Iloilo and Guimaras represented by Congressman Lucille Nava, Governor Samuel Gumarin, Vice-Governor John Edward Gando, and Mayor Eugenio Reyes of Buenavista, Guimaras have committed to extend all possible assistance to boat operators and associations in the process of phasing-out their wooden-hulled ships and its replacement with technologically-improved hull materials through continuous dialogues and by creating other sources of employment, especially for those sailors who will be displaced as a result of the phase-out.

Several local and international boat builders and shipbuilders including the OCEA Shipbuilding and Industries, Philippines PIO-Ship Inc., Metallica Shipyard, Lacson Marine Consultancy, Swerte Grande Ventures Corp., Suzuki, Pinoy Catamaran, and the Boat Industries Association of the Philippines (BIAP) also participated in the workshop.

They presented available boats and ship designs made of aluminum, steel, or fiberglass that the stakeholders may consider as replacements to existing wooden-hulled ships. These modern designs are proven to be safer, more durable, and more environment-friendly, as well as consume less fuel and provide more convenient services to the riding public.

After the workshop, the boat operators and associations, LGUs, government agencies, and private partners have expressed their commitment to work hand-in-hand with the MARINA in upholding maritime safety and promoting the comfort of the riding public through the construction and the utilization of modern boats and ships.