By Dhel Nazario
The United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) is appealing to the government to set up an Admiralty Court in the country, reiterating that having one would strengthen the maritime industry, prosecute corrupt maritime officials and prevent maritime disasters.
In a statement, UFS President Engr. Nelson Ramirez said that a stable modernization plan should constitute the formulation of the Admiralty Court that would investigate erring personnel of the country’s maritime regulatory bodies such as Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries, and offenses.
Ramirez pointed out that lax enforcement of safety regulations and corruption are still two major factors why shipping companies are involved in numerous disasters.
According to him, corruption still thrives at the said agencies, especially in the issuance of Certificate of Convenience (COC) to shipowners who owns second-hand ships involved in most maritime accidents, due to the alleged “ISM” or “I-Sobre Mo” bribery scheme.
“That is the reason why second-hand ships or “floating coffins” are still voyaging in our waters.” Ramirez said.
He explained that after sea tragedies, MARINA and PCG officials usually rule that those sunken vessels are seaworthy and reiterate to maritime investigators that human error is the sole cause of the accident, allegedly to elude accountability.