Manila, Philippines — Atty. Hernani N Fabia left quietly Thursday, 07 December 2023 his post as Administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) following his receipt of the acceptance by the Office of the President of his resignation which he tendered a few weeks ago. He stepped down from his public service, after leading the Agency for 17 months from July 2022 to the first week of December, with remarkable accomplishments and strategic reforms for the country’s continued efforts to develop the country’s maritime sector.

In July 2022, he assumed his position at a time when the country was gradually recovering from the impact of the global health pandemic and racing against time to submit additional substantive information to avert the continued threat by the European Commission (EC) to withdraw its recognition of Philippine issued certificates to Filipino merchant marine officers over the country’s failure to address the recurring findings on the country’s maritime education, training, and certification system for the last 17 years.

Fabia concluded his tour of duty with the following milestones that showcased the agency’s commitment to international compliance, industry development, technological advancement, safety enhancement, good governance, organizational expansion, and infrastructure development.

Focus Area No. 1: Continued compliance with international commitments

MARINA has successfully secured the continued recognition of STCW Certificates issued to Filipino merchant marine officers by the European Commission through a formal letter from the DGMOVE confirming the serious efforts by the Philippine government to institute reforms on the country’s maritime education, training, and certification system. This development ensured the continued employment of more or less 50,000 Filipino merchant marine officers on board EU-flagged ships. It likewise received from the European Commission (EC) a total of EU 4 million for a capacity building program intended for the country’s implementation of the STCW Convention for Seafarers 1978, as amended, and the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006).

For the first time since the STCW Convention entered into force in 2012, the Agency likewise completed the cycle of Independent Evaluation to assess the demonstration of the country’s effective implementation of the STCW Convention. The Philippine report has been submitted to the IMO Panel of Competent Persons for review and evaluation whose recommendation will serve as the basis for the continued inclusion of the so-called IMO “White List”.

Last October 2023, the MARINA also successfully concluded the Philippine audit of its implementation of IMO mandatory instruments which the country is a State Party under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS).

Under the leadership of Administrator Fabia, the Philippines was again re-elected as a Member of the Council under category C of the International Maritime Organization.

Focus Area No. 2: Updated Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) 2028

With the successful hosting of the Philippine Maritime Industry Summit, MARINA completed the drafting of the MIDP 2028. The plan, aligned with the Philippine Development Plan and the President’s 8-Point Socio-Economic Agenda, awaits approval from the Office of the President.

The MARINA Strategic Voyage Plan 2028, derived from the MIDP, has been finalized and adopted for implementation, linking plans, projects, and programs in the agency budget based on the 2024 National Expenditures Program.

Focus Area No. 3: Nationwide Automation and Digitalization of MARINA

In improving its services to Filipino seafarers, MARINA implemented the Enhanced MARINA Integrated Seafarers Management Online (MISMO) System, allowing online filing, payment, and receipt of relevant certificates.

The MARINA Blockchain-Enabled Certification System developed under the incumbency of Administrator Fabia is expected to be launched nationwide in the early part of 2024. This system represents a major leap in information system integration, offering online certificate verification and enhancing data protection.

Focus Area No. 4: Enhancement of Safe Operations of Motorbancas through enhanced pro-poor programs

MARINA strengthened its pro-poor programs by undertaking mobile registration, licensing, documentation, and franchising of vessels in several coastal areas of the country, particularly in Dingalan, Aurora, and Subic, Zambales. Capacity building on Modified Basic Safety (MBST) for ships of 35 gross tonnage and below reached 1,015 trained domestic seafarers.
The Maritime Industry Safety Summit held on November 15, 2023, emphasized the importance of safe operations in the maritime industry.

Focus Area No. 5: Promotion of Good Governance and Transparency

MARINA demonstrated its commitment to good governance by achieving a 100% resolution rate on citizens’ complaints lodged through the Presidential 8888 Hotline. The expansion of the Quality Management System under ISO 9001:2015 ensures standardized processes across all MARINA offices, promoting transparency.

Focus Area No. 6: Enhanced Maritime Multilaterals, Partnerships, and Linkages

Bilateral agreements with Canada, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, France, Korea, and others underscore the Philippines’ commitment to international cooperation. The establishment of the MARINA Multi-Sector Governance Council (MSGC) enhances collaboration and expertise in realizing the Ten-Year Maritime Industry Development Plan.

Focus Area No. 7: Organizational Expansion and Human Capacity Building

Administrator Fabia’s tenure witnessed the appointment of 167 officials and employees, emphasizing human capacity building through training programs and international participation. The ongoing and upcoming construction of regional office buildings, along with organizational restructuring, reflects MARINA’s commitment to expanding its presence nationwide.

Focus Area No. 8: Infrastructure Development

In addition to these achievements, MARINA has made substantial progress in infrastructure development. The completion of the MARINA Regional Office No. VIII in Tacloban City, Leyte, and the ongoing construction of the MARINA Regional Office No. X in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental, and the groundbreaking of the MARINA Regional Office No. XI in Davao City marked significant steps toward enhancing the agency’s regional presence and service capabilities.

The buildings, designed to meet the highest standards, are expected to play a crucial role in facilitating efficient operations, providing improved services, and fostering better coordination within the regions.

The accomplishments of MARINA under the leadership of Atty. Fabia signaled a transformative period for the maritime industry, setting the stage for continued growth, international collaboration, technological advancement, and enhanced infrastructure.