By Marino World Editorial Pool
MARINA huffed to beat the deadline imposed by EMSA to answer shortfalls the European Union agency found in its last audit on local maritime governance and institutions. Thus are quizzical eyes when the new Administrator declared a sweeping 14-Point Agenda (Agenda) to be accomplished by 31 December 2018.
Overall, the reception is optimistic yet. He is given the benefit of the doubt being handpicked by a popular President, from the cream of the military now perceived by the mainstream as disciplined performers, on crosshair at tasks and targets.
This is a Filipino political ambivalence: worried by shades of military dictatorship from an emerging breed of soldiers expected to arrest decay and return trust on public officials.
To be fair, one should know the new Administrator who replaced one sacked for alleged excessive foreign trips — even if the first and only one to craft a comprehensive maritime program since MARINA was founded decades back to Pres. Marcos years.
Rey Leonardo Borja Guerrero is a Batang Maynila, born December 17, 1961 at the capital city.
He took basics at the Espiritu Santo Parochial School, a year of Chemical Engineering at UP-Diliman, graduated from the Phil Military Academy, BScience-1984, Magna Cum Laude.
Guerrero earned units in MS Information Management at the Ateneo de Manila Univ; completed in 1999 an MS-Information Tech from the Univ of New South Wales, Australia.
His training, encompassing: Ranger, Special Forces, Intelligence, Airborne, Infantry with Defense Management (Australia), Tactics (Singapore) and the pivotal Command and General Staff course.
He was operations officer of the Phil Battalion in East Timor, commanded field forces in hotspots of Mindanao and Negros; counter Intelligence in NCR-Quezon-Bicol; led units of the
Presidential Security Group, including Task Force Lapu-Lapu for the 12th ASEAN Summit.
He commanded Task Force Davao (10ID Davao City) and the Army’s 701st Infantry Brigade, 71D in Davao Oriental, assumed Army Chief of Staff, then the 49th AFP Chief of Staff.
The general is be-medalled, like the Order of Lakandula and the Legion of Honor (both Degree of Commander). He has two Gawad Kaunlaran medals, four each of Distinguished Service Star and Bronze Cross medals, six Military Commendation medals and 27 Military Merit medals.
And more, like the UN Service medal, Thai Army Honorary Airborne Wings, our Air Force Aviation Gold Wings, Navy Honorary Flag Rank Command Badge and Underwater Operations Seal Badge.
These, on top of Visayas and Mindanao Anti-Dissidence Campaign medals.
Journalists are often doubting Thomases, particularly with appointees (and politicians). Marino World took the first interview of the 15th MARINA Administrator which turned to serendipity.
The General is adept on issues and responses, surgical on maritime options as he was on tactics and strategies in theaters of conflict.
He admits to learning everyday, a mantra he applied to absorb as much on the transition to his new post and work environ. Four days after retirement from AFP, The President ordered him to report to MARINA to have ample orientation before formalities and papers.
Guerrero obliged; really perked given Duterte’s criteria on his team of being effective, incorruptible, with timeline to accomplish tasks, at least public expenditure.
Bold, not brazen.
Administrator Guerrero confirmed during the May 7 flag ceremony the Agenda, not to grandstand but to give flesh to expectations.
Marino World captured some of Guerrero’s thoughts on the Agenda, viz:
- Re-Engineering MARINA Website. Computerization is a top item because MARINA is a frontline agency which must be transparent to reduce graft and corruption.
The on-line appointment system was soft-launched May 25th during the STCW Forum at PICC. This allows seafarers to view on-line own records, upload certificates and related papers, take appointment for issuance of STCW certificates, SIRBs, ID, schedule of theoretical exams and payment.
- Regions Decentralized. Piggy-backed on the system are satellite centers like that in the Mall of Asia and SM North Edsa, “very soon in Bacoor and Las Pinas” as in Iloilo and Cebu City which already serve on regional functions.
- The new building in Cebu will be inaugurated June 14th, on key efforts by Cong. Jesulito Manalo, Angkla PartyList. He used usufruct on a province-owned lot in Sitio Sudlon, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City for MARINA usage and funded by Congress Manalo worked on.
The internals of a new building in Manila is yet being worked on for many technical requirements and may take up to the first quarter of 2019 before being operational.
(It may be recalled the plan was initiated on the watch of Atty. Nick Conti, ground-breaking made by Dr. Max Mejia. Now, Guerrero may be the “General” solution.
When Centers are fanned out, time and expenses are immediate savings for seafarers. Also, MARINA insiders can no longer play favorites with those in Metro Manila.)
- Completion of the 10-Year Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP). There are now round-table discussions with stakeholders. ”We have to complete the whole process before September” to present to The President during the Maritime Summit as part of Maritime Month celebrations; hence, a joint effort with NCWC-OP to harmonize with MARINA, the flag state administration.
- Compliance with EMSA on our maritime education, training and certification system. He confirms we have submitted our report on EMSA observations on its audit December 2017, answered January 2018. EMSA still found deficiencies and we relayed another compliance report last April. This October, EMSA will check again on evidence that we have implemented what we submitted to do.
- Assessment on the Implementation of RA 9295 (Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004). We are now assessing the IRR, fusing refinements or amendments. He is aware of concerns like retirement of ships, tax incentives, etc. The IRR must truly be responsive to the industry, promote growth and development.
“(W)e want to have more entities involved in shipbuilding.” Incentives are needed to have a modern fleet safely and conveniently serving the public (noting vessel age, seaworthiness, classification, accreditation).
- Completion of the Revised Phil Merchant Marine Rules and Regulations. Now being codified and updated with the new circulars, regulations and advisories. Congress need not be involved as we are just harmonizing, making sure policies are “consistent and clear as to the letter and spirit of the law.”
“We are now consolidating the Quality Procedure of Central Service Units” but admits still at the policy formulation stage (like the drafts on Fishing Vessels Rules and Regulations and MARINA’s compliance to the Civil Service Strategic Performance Management System).
- Preparation for the Phil Audit on 2021 IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS). This is now mandatory inspection, starting 2021 and every seven years. We already conducted a mock audit (May 28 to June 1) simulating that of IMO. By June 22, those involved must report findings; by July 6, action plans which we shall review and finalize in a week.
From July 20 to December, the action plan will be implemented, with a “round-up” mock audit in November. Following years this cycle will be repeated to ensure the Philippines maintains inclusion in the 2021 IMO WhiteList.
- Accelerated filling up of plantilla positions. The President has committed to terminate the practice of “endo” (slang for contractual labor). This means Government must also end JOs (job orders). MARINA has to serve a clientele of over 700,000 with a staff of only 1,090 (592 plantilla, 498 JOs) and can no longer hire new personnel on JO, neither renew/extend existing ones.
- Proposal for new organizational structure. We are looking on four areas: Operations, of day-to-day activities; Planning, to determine direction and future policies that MARINA should be crafting and implementing; Administrative, housekeeping to have a reliable and smooth functioning agency; Internal Audit, for oversight on all the functions. He is scouting for competent and dedicated workers to deliver the tasks.
The search includes the Deputy Administrator for Planning and STCW Executive Director. Guerrero is very careful on whom to recommend to The President. The recommendee must be qualified and competent, of unquestioned integrity.
- Revival of the MARINA Performance Governance System (PGS). Not that it was ignored before, it was just not given prominence. He was pleasantly surprised to know MARINA is enrolled (just like the AFP) at the Performance Governance System (PGS) developed by Kaplan and Norton of Harvard Univ.
PGS monitors performance whether aligned to strategic goals and objectives. There are four stages, the highest being institutionalized best practices in, say, management of resources, budgeting, application and key functions.
PGS is a seal of good governance, similar to the ISO seal of approval.
Guerrero thinks MARINA is yet at the first level.
One more peek.
Wife Jayne R. bore him four children, now all grown-up professionals and working. None are married, Millennials that they are.
Guerrero in the Army was active like an Ironman on dives, biking, swimming, practical shooting, golf. He’ll try to hone back week-ends but could just be jogging or doing weights.
His focus is “developing our country using the maritime industry,” which remits about US$5-billion annually, gives jobs to over 700,000 maritime professionals. Aside are our rich but untapped marine and offshore resources.
He echoes The President’s admonition to ease doing business by reducing processing time and mandated by the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2017. While not capping attendance in international meetings, he makes certain MARINA participants are prepared, with cleared positions, interventions and papers on these international obligations.
Guerrero presented May 25th the Agenda at the Usapang STCW Forum at the PICC before more than 500 stakeholders, including his initial talks with prominent maritime pillars.
Capt. Ronaldo Enrile, Angkla Vice Chair. “I think that’s very good… just need to have the right persons to implement” the Agenda supported by salaries competitive with the private sector and exempt from government salary standardization.
Joost Mes, Trustee at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Phil. “(H)e has a lot on his plate … but he acknowledges that so that’s a good start… And he acknowledges that he doesn’t know everything about the industry but he also asks people to help so I think he has the right attitude.”
Capt. Cesario Cornejo, Jr., Pres., United Seafarers Maritime. “Anybody can be a leader in a different field… It will not be a hindrance” since “Any challenge can be overcome provided we work as a team.”
At the MARINA 44th Anniversary celebrated June 1st at the YWMCA, Ermita, Manila, Marino World collected thoughts of stakeholders on the Agenda:
Christopher Pastrana, Pres., Phil Interisland Shipping Association. “It’s very important for the industry to have a clear direction” and he supports the 14-Point Agenda stressing “there is nothing impossible “with “the collaboration of private sector and government.”
Jose Albar Kato, Joint Manning Group, keeps his hopes for better things as the new Administrator is open, his clean record “a good starting point.” He wishes MARINA to consolidate views and interests of groups to prioritize common concerns.
The Maritime Journalists Association (MJAP) seems still on honeymoon with the new incumbent, asking soft questions last June 8th at the MARINA boardroom. Guerrero announced Lui Delos Santos as MARINA spokesperson and the creation of a Communications Group.
Afterwards, the suave General hosted them to a simple dinner with the iconic karaoke mike and a carte blanche invitation anytime MJAP wishes to call.