President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) No. 159 which aims to adopt an integrated approach in the ratification and accession to International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions and Instruments on 28 December 2021 and was released on 13 January 2022.

The signing of the said EO manifested the country’s commitment to remain in the vanguard of international maritime developments.

The EO likewise mentioned that the State has to identify ways to improve its maritime sector through integrating and empowering the Maritime Administration as well as to study new maritime conventions and instruments for ratification.

Moreover, EO 159 also mandated the State to conduct a national interest analysis to know how a certain maritime convention or instrument will benefit the country and to determine the responsibilities arising therefrom.

“The country strives to become a major maritime nation that gives premium to the protection of life and marine environment, enhancement of standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers,” the EO highlighted.

Aside from the said national policy, the EO has also reconstituted and renamed the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on the Ratification and Implementation of Maritime Conventions (ICCRIMC) into Inter-agency Coordinating Committee to Facilitate the Ratification and Accession to the Implementation of Maritime Conventions (ICCFRAIMC).

The ICCRIMC was created through the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Department Order No. 2015-016. The said Committee was established to have an integrated and systematic approach in ratifying and implementing the priority IMO Conventions such as Anti-Fouling Systems (AFS) Convention and Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, among others.

In addition, the EO also identified the DOTr and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to be the chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the ICCFRAIMC.

The members will be composed of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Cebu Port Authority (CPA), Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA – BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR – EMB), DENR – Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR – BMB), University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute (UP – MSI), UP – Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP – IESM).

As indicated in the EO, the Committee is responsible to consider new international maritime conventions for possible ratification or accession, conduct a national interest analysis for the purpose, and study measures needed to satisfy convention requirements, as well as the implications on the established maritime operations in the country.

It is also tasked to develop and adopt a National Work Programme (NWP) as well as to review and endorse proposed legislation, national policies and administrative regulations to support the implementation of adopted instruments.

The ICCFRAIMC will likewise facilitate capacity development initiatives for technical personnel as well as conduct information campaigns and seminars with policy-makers and stakeholders to raise awareness on the requirements and benefits of IMO instruments, including those proposed for legislation.

It will also be engaged in dialogue with other agencies, academic institutions, non- government organizations and private stakeholders on issues relating to the maritime industry and call on their support to ensure that the actions taken by the Committee are informed and supported by international best practices and evidence-based analyses. Lastly, the Committee is expected to develop and implement a monitoring mechanism to assess the ratification or accession process.

The Philippines has been a cooperative partner of the IMO towards its commitment of having a green and sustainable global maritime transportation since 1964. With the recently concluded IMO Council Election, the Philippines was re-elected to the said Council under Category C for Biennium 2022-2023, providing the country with continued opportunity to strongly participate in the drafting of rules and regulations that aim to promote a safe, green, and sustainable global maritime industry.