100 SHIPS FOR RP FLEET

Sec-Gen Bienvenido Lorque of the Association of Marine Officers and Ratings (AMOR) batted for the purchase of over 100 ships to sail under the Philippine flag. Acquisition may be funded from taxes levied under Republic Act 9483.

The chief engineer voiced the proposal at the roundtable discussions (RTD) July 12th sponsored by Cong. Aniceto Bertiz III (ACTS OFW Partylist) held in Quezon City at the RVM wing of the House of Representatives.

Alternative.

C/E Lorque believes the expanded fleet is a safety net to board our aging seafarers who may not be competitive anymore in the global manning market. MARINA experts appear cold on the proposal as ships emit pollution, therefor, contradictory to the aim of RA 9483.

RA 9483 imposts PhP0.10 per liter of fuel oil imported into the country plus contribution to the Oil Pollution Management Fund (OPMF) and additional levy on the individual importer when 150,000 tons have been imported.

The national volume is about 455,000 barrels a day (72,345,000 liters), enough to raise about PhP2.65-billion annually to buy and maintain over 100 BRPs (Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas/government ships) at PhP300-million per ship.

Just paper.

But it remains unimplemented, even faces repeal due the lobby of the Petroleum Sea Transport Association (Philpesta) whose Executive Director, Ernesto Paguyo, claims the Committee on Ecology of the Lower House has already endorsed its approval in plenary session.

RA 9483 was signed into law by President Gloria Arroyo on June 2, 2007, a consolidation of Senate Bill 2600 (Feb 19, 2007) and House Bill 4363 (Feb 20, 2007). But a law cannot take effect without the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Some quarters expect now that Ms. Arroyo is Speaker of the House, RA 9483 may be finally implemented.

Interest blocks.

Initial problems for the IRR are establishing floor and ceiling of the collection and for how long. Then MARINA Administrator Ma. Elena Len Bautista-Horn opted not to act, “to prevent legal tussle between operators and regulators.”

The Lower Chamber became impatient and summoned then Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to approve an IRR. By law, this should have been done three months after passage of the law. From approval in 2007 to date, RA 9483 remains frigid.

Wherefors.

In spirit, RA 9483 was passed for “… the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1992 International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the 1992 International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage”.

Hence, the short title, “Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007” to protect “…marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.”

“Fuel Oil” means heavy distillates or residues from crude oil or blends intended for use as fuel for the production of heat or power of a quality equivalent to the American Society for Testing and Materials Specification for No. 4 Fuel Oil (D 396-69) or heavier.

What for.

The OPMF shall be used to finance:

  • Immediate containment, removal and clean-up operations of the Coast Guard in all oil pollution cases
  • Research, enforcement and monitoring activities of agencies (like the Coast Guard, MARINA, Ports Authority, Environmental Management bureaus of the departments of the Environment and Energy.

An aside.

There is a brewing tempest between president Rodrigo Duterte and tycoon Lucio Tan, believed the fourth richest Filipino with a networth of $4.2-billion. The President has issued a 10-day ultimatum for Tan to pay a PhP7-billion tax arrears of his Phil Airline from the Civil Aviation Authority, basically from the exclusive use of Terminal 2 of the Manila Intl Airport Authority.

Duterte may similarly warn shipowners unwilling to pay taxes and fees. The President known for steel nerve, the Lucio Tan controversy may escalate to those not paying impost on RA 9483.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade is on the wings ready to file legal action to “protect the interest of government.”

 

 

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