President Aquino has designated Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to supervise the security of sea transport and maritime infrastructure in the country.
The latest designation, contained in Executive Order No. 197, was in line with the country’s compliance with the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
The convention, which the Philippines is a signatory, earlier adopted the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code, a cooperation framework among governments, shipping companies and port authorities to detect and deter acts threatening the security of maritime transportation.
“The Secretary of the Transportation and Communications, as the authority responsible for the security of sea transport and maritime infrastructure in the country, shall ensure the accomplishment of the duties and responsibilities of the Contracting Government under the ISPS Code,” the order read.
Under EO 197, the transportation chief must ensure the performance of agencies namely the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and other port authorities, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Office for Transportation Security (OTS).
The Coast Guard must perform control and compliance measures on ships sailing in the country while the PPA should implement security measures on cargo shipments.
MARINA shall enforce the ISPS Code provisions relative to the security of local ships. The OTS would implement the National Security Program for Sea Transport and Maritime Infrastructure, examine and audit performance of port security personnel and equipment, among others.
EO 197 also stated that these maritime agencies shall impose appropriate sanctions for violations of security standards and the ISPS Code.
All government agencies, including the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration and the National Coast Watch Center, have also been directed to coordinate with the Transportation Secretary for the successful implementation of the maritime security plan.
The National Security Program for Sea Transport and Maritime Infrastructure must also be updated and submitted for approval of the transportation chief within 60 days.