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PASAY CITY - Department of Transportation - Office for Transportation Security (DOTr - OTS), together with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) hosted a week-long visit from delegates of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The visit, held from 24 to 28 February 2020, focused on the IMO Global Maritime Security Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme which consists of Security Needs Assessment, Development of National Maritime Security Strategy, Provision of Technical Experts, Maritime Table Top Exercises, and Training Courses.

In his Opening Remarks last 26 February 2020, OTS Administrator Undersecretary Raul L. Del Rosario vowed that extra efforts will be made to run abreast on terror tactics that have evolved through the years.

"We know for a fact that the maritime industry plays a crucial role in global trade and economy, and protecting such from lawless terror attacks is a challenging task that one cannot simply bear alone. That is why it is very critical that we are on the same page in implementing measures to secure our transport systems. Whatever will be accomplished in this undertaking, is accomplished collectively," USec. Del Rosario expressed.

Atty. Charina Flor A. Cacho-Fernin, Officer-in-Charge of the OTS Maritime Transportation Security Division discussed the agency’s role in relation to the implementation of international standards and protocols espoused in the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

She likewise highlighted the policy-determining functions and oversight capability of the OTS, as well as the importance of having a strong inter-agency coordination in terms of maritime security domain, adhering to the provisions of Executive Order No. 197 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

During the discussion on the implementation of the ISPS Code, it was confirmed that its provisions were carried out effectively through the conduct of audits, assessments, inspections, training of maritime security personnel through accreditation of training schools, centers or institutions, and certification of security personnel to evaluate their knowledge and competencies.

Such validation of security effectiveness was bolstered after IMO’s visit at the Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), an ISPS-compliant port facility located in Manila South Harbor.

The discussions also touched on national policies, rules and regulations governing the certification of personnel involved in the implementation of security measures, and accreditation of training institutions, centers, or schools which cater to the security training needs of transport operators and stakeholders.

To confirm the effectiveness of this core function, the IMO visited Magsaysay Learning Resources Inc., one of the OTS-accredited institutions, which adopts and implements the prescribed maritime security curriculum and Program of Instruction (POI).

IMO positively noted that the Philippines is well-situated on the international maritime policies and protocols, and that it fully implements the provisions of the ISPS Code, even promulgating a national transportation security program to cover non-SOLAS ships and port facilities.

For IMO representative, Alyekka Stella Aber, the Philippines has always been a good example in the efficient implementation of the ISPS Code, not only to its neighboring ASEAN countries, but to the rest of the IMO member states.

The OTS, along with other agencies under the DOTr, assured that Philippines, being a maritime and archipelagic nation, remains committed to international maritime standards, and proactively promotes a strong security culture.

The IMO representatives to the Philippines include Mr. Mourad Ghorbel, Technical Officer – Maritime Safety Division, Ms. Alyekka Stella Aber, and Atty. Josephine Uranza, IMO Regional Presence for East Asia.

Also present were representatives from PPA, PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority, Regional Ports Management Authority – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and Cebu Port Authority.

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