‘Undermanned’ Marina admits inspecting ships difficult

September 9, 2006

By Tetch Torres

THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) says a lack of manpower is making it difficult for the agency to comply with its mandate of ensuring the seaworthiness of ships.

Appearing before the Department of Justice (DoJ) special fact finding investigation on the Visayas oil spill on Friday, Marina Administrator Vicente Suazo Jr. admitted they still rely heavily on the Philippine Coast Guard and other agencies to check the safety of seafaring vessels.

Republic Act 9295 or “An Act Promoting the Development of Philippine Domestic Shipping, Shipbuilding, and Shiprepair and Ship Breaking, Ordaining Reforms in Government Policies Towards Shipping in the Philippines,” gives the Marina the authority to implement maritime laws.

But Suazo said that “because of the many ships to be inspected, we cannot conduct actual inspections (so) that most of the time we rely on the documents submitted by the ship owners like in the case of Solar I,” the tanker whose August 11 sinking caused one of the worst oil spills in the country’s history.

Suazo also informed the DoJ task force, headed by undersecretary Ernesto Pineda, that the Solar I was once Panamanian-registered and known as “Chimaru-8” and later “New Henase.”

It was later registered in the Philippines under the name “Solar I.”

Suazo said this is allowed under the Bare Boat Chartered Law.

The Japanese incorporators of Sunshine Maritime Development Corp (SMDC), which own the tanker, failed to appear before the DoJ panel.

(From INQ7.net, Sept. 8, 2006.)


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