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Marcos: Time to make maritime industry a top priority

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said Tuesday that the Philippine maritime industry should be a top priority of the government.

"Given that the Philippines is a maritime nation, I believe that it is time for us to make the maritime industry once again a top priority," Marcos said as he graced the Philippine Maritime Industry Summit 2023 at the Manila Hotel.

"While we already hold a dominant position in the world of global shipping, I certainly believe that we can do more, especially here at home," Marcos added.

The President said there is a need to ensure that the government would harness the seafarer's knowledge, "make use of their experience, and mobilize our local industries to build an even stronger domestic maritime industry for the benefit of our people."

"So, I encourage all government institutions and key stakeholders to collaborate, to cooperate to ensure the continued growth and development of this extremely important sector," Marcos said.

Marcos acknowledged the significance of the Maritime Industry Development Plan or MIDP for 2028, which covers eight priority programs ranging from enhancing maritime transport safety and security; promoting environmental sustainability; implementing digitalization; modernizing, upgrading, and expanding domestic and overseas shipping industries — including the local shipbuilding and ship repair industry; promoting a highly skilled and competitive maritime workforce; and adopting an effective and efficient maritime administration governance system.

The Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028 is a roadmap for the integrated development of the Philippine Maritime Industry.

It is geared towards building a strong and reliable Philippine Merchant Fleer that addresses the sea transport requirements of the archipelago in support to the socio-economic agenda of the Marcos administration.

In his speech, Marcos did not mention anything about the grievances earlier aired by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) when it comes to shipboard training among Filipino seafarers.

He, however, earlier guaranteed that the government is doing everything to address the observations of EMSA.

'Primary source of maritime manpower'

Meanwhile, Marcos said the Philippines is the world’s primary source of maritime manpower, which, according to him, constitutes 25% of the global seafarers and brings a total of 6.71 billion dollars in remittances in 2022.

"With that being said, I laud the commitment of our Filipino seafarers to bring honor and pride once again to our country. They do this by providing quality service across the globe and contributing to our nation-building efforts," said the President.

"I extend my gratitude as well to the officials and members of our domestic and overseas shipping, shipbuilding, and ship repair sectors," he added.

Marcos vowed that his administration would give its unqualified support in the aspirations of "building a Philippine maritime industry that will be looked upon with admiration by the region and the rest of the world." — RSJ, GMA Integrated News