By Raymund Antonio
The decline in the number of Philippine Registered Vessels (PRVS) has alarmed the maritime industry as it called on the attention of the Department of Transportation and Maritime Industry Authority to address the problem.
Citing records from MARINA, the 57,000-strong United Filipino Seafarers (UFS), a union of maritime professionals, said the number of domestic PRVs was at 16,935 while there were 116 ships under the Philippine registry operating overseas as of last year.
The 116 PRVs plying international waters were much lower compared to the more than 800 ships recorded back in 1988, UFS president and engineer Nelson Ramirez said.
The Philippines is also lagging behind its neighboring countries in terms of overseas ship registration, according to the seamen’s group.
“Singapore and Hong Kong, which are smaller countries compared to us, are ranked 4th and 5th. While Indonesia, also an archipelagic country, is ranked 14th,” Ramirez said.
“So, why are ours draining? Do we have any benchmark plans to solve this?” he asked.
Among last year’s ship registries, he cited the country ranked 33rd, with 1.61 percent of total dead weight tonnage of the world fleet based on the records of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“If we have, this needs a major push. This should be the focus of the present administration of DOTr and MARINA,” Ramirez said.
The UFS has called on the need for the government to take immediate steps that will solve the drop in the number of ships sailing under the Philippine flag and registration of overseas ships.
“We are counting on the diligence of (MARINA) administrator Rey Guerrero, our legislators and especially President Rodrigo Duterte for the industry to recover,” said Ramirez.
“We are a maritime nation, and yet our ships plying overseas are scarce? It’s a humiliation for our part. This should not be taken for granted. More PRVs connotes more revenues in our government coffers, which can substitute to TRAIN Law,” he said.
The UFS leader said MARINA’s primary mandate is to promote the viability of the vast seas, by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 474, otherwise known as the Maritime Industry Decree of 1974, to integrate the development, promotion and regulation of the maritime industry in the country in terms of Shipbuilding, Shipbreaking, Drydocking and Repairs, Transshipment of Cargoes and Expansion of PRVs.