MANILA – In line with this year’s celebration of the 22nd National Maritime Week, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) commenced a two-day series of maritime industry symposium on 22-23 September 2021, with discussions revolving around the overarching theme: “The Philippine Maritime Industry Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic: Today and Tomorrow.”

The two-day symposium fostered productive discussions between government officials and maritime stakeholders, with each discussion being designated with reactors from various government agencies and the private sector.

MARINA Deputy Administrator for Operations Engr. Nannette Z. Villamor-Dinopol presented a short opening statement to mark the official start of the symposium. In her address, she explained that the symposium serves as a platform for maritime stakeholders to gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.

“The results of this symposium will serve as useful inputs in our efforts to integrate pandemic response in the MIDP. We, therefore, encourage you to share your best thoughts for our way forward as a sector and a maritime nation. Everyone in this symposium is part of the industry and the industry will not prosper without the proactive people in it,” Engr. Dinopol said to the participants of the symposium.

Participants also witnessed an inspirational message from Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, where he stressed the importance of Filipino seafarers in the nation’s economic development. “Sa lahat ng mga naririto ngayon, you all play important roles as vital enablers for the smooth functioning of maritime supply chains, as we navigate together towards a new normal,” he said.

Three topics were lined up for the first day of the symposium, revolving around matters concerning the maritime tourism, the Philippine supply chain, and the shipbuilding and ship repair sector in the country.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Ms. Mary Jean T. Pacheco delved into the current state of the “Initiatives to Improve Logistics, Transport, and Supply Chain in the Country.” Meanwhile, the second topic on “The Role of Domestic Shipping in the Promotion of Maritime Tourism Products During and After the Pandemic” was discussed by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Head of Cruise Team, Office of Product and Market Development Ms. Gina Marie Liberty Esmaña. To cap all three discussions, Shipyards Association of the Philippines Chairperson Mr. Meneleo Carlos III elaborated on the “Proposed Recovery Initiatives for the Philippines Ship Building and Ship Repair Industry.”

A set of reactors were also assigned per topic, to encourage an exchange of views between the stakeholders who were present during the symposium. For the first topic, Development Bank of the Philippines Senior Vice President Mr. Paul D. Lazaro and Philippine Liner Shipping Association President Mr. Mark Matthew Parco were assigned to share their insights. MARINA Franchising Service/Legal Service Director II Atty. Maximo I. Bañares, Jr., Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association Executive Director Atty. Peter G. Aguilar, and Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association President Mr. Christopher S. Pastrana were tasked to react to the second topic. Lastly, the third topic’s discussion was also forwarded by MARINA Shipyards Regulation Service (SRS), Shipyard Development and Licensing Division Chief Engr. Maria Teresa D. Mamisao, and Department of Finance (DOF) Director IV Ms. Sheila Castaloni.

After an active exchange between participants, the first day of the symposium concluded with a short message from MARINA Office of the Deputy Administrator for Planning Officer-in-Charge Atty. Jean Ver P. Pia, PhD. “We have oftentimes heard the suggestion of a whole of government approach, so it is really refreshing to learn that although we come from different departments, agencies, and associations, our efforts in addressing the impact of this pandemic, and indeed, in continuing the performance of our mandates, have been integrated, holistic, and harmonized,” she says, citing the fruitful discussions held during the symposium.

The symposium resumed on the second day, 23 September 2021, with the topics regarding the Accelerating the Vaccination of Filipino Seafarers: Issues and Challenges, which was discussed by ALMA Maritime Group President Cristina H. Garcia; Stranded Seafarers at Sea: Impact on Health and Safety of Navigation, which was tackled by International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) Regional Director Renato “ Jun” Pablo, Jr; and, Piracy and Armed Robbery of Ships in Philippine Waters: Updates and Way Forward, which was shared by Philippine Navy Captain Tirso L Chavez.

Similar to the first day, the said topics have also been broadened by another set of reactors consisting of Department of Health (DOH) National Vaccination Operations Center Dr. Kezia Lorraine H. Rosario, MD, RN, MPMHSD, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cdr Benjamin G Formentos, Jr, Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association’s Mr. Paul Rodriguez, and Deputy Executive Director of the STCW Office Capt Jeffrey P Solon.

Officially culminating the symposium, Atty. Pia expressed her gratitude for the active participation of the associations, companies, and government agencies which made the event a success. “We will continue to update our Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP), and all of its programs in order to ensure our preparedness, not only during the pandemic but also in other unprecedented times,” she said, highlighting the MARINA’s continued effort.

The MARINA assures maritime stakeholders that it will continue to pursue more avenues for collaboration to foster the recovery of the nation’s economy and the maritime sector as a whole.