Press Release
February 22, 2010


SENATOR Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. today denounced the planned maritime holiday by operators of small roll-on, roll-off (Roro) vessels while he urged the government to find an equitable solution that would protect the shipping industry without compromising the safety of the passengers.

"The passengers are the most affected in this dispute. Staging a strike will not help in solving the problem. There is an avenue to express your contention on the new memorandum circular issued by Marina ," Bong Revilla told the National Coalition of Shipping Organizations, a coalition of six shipping organizations in the country including the Visayan Association of Ferryboat and Coastwise Service Operators (VAFCSO).

The coalition has members of 500 vessels plying the inter-islands routes. It was estimated that more than 50,000 passengers will be stranded should they push through with the scheduled March 1 maritime holiday.

Meanwhile, he asked the government and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Maria Elena Bautista to ensure that the circular she issued should be centered to raise safety standards for the passengers.

The coalition claimed that Marina had issued series of orders and some of them may cause the closure of the shipping companies.

Among the circulars that they are questioning are mandatory protection and indemnity marine insurance of up to $3 million; the revised schedule of fines and penalties for maritime violations and additional compensation of P50,000 to all survivors of an accident.

"An equitable scale should be formulated based on the capacity of the vessel and not to force the all ship owners - be it small or big ship companies - to comply with the standard $3 million indemnity. Obviously, the small-scale shipping lines will not afford this. But this does not mean they will be exempt from new measures aimed to promote safety," said Revilla, senate committee on public services chair.

On the other hand, he explained to the coalition that the orders issued by the Marina are designed for the ship operators to be more compliant with the maritime regulations.

Bong Revilla cited that most common causes of sea accidents can sum up to the negligence of the ship operators, these are overloading of ship, aging facilities, badly-trained crewmembers, non-compliance by the vessels with safety precautions and measures.

On the part of the Marina , the senator stressed they should also consider a strict and serious implementation of maritime safety and regulations to prevent sea mishap.

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