WE WRITE again about boats because the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has announced that it is now implementing the plan phasing out all wooden-hulled boats.
MARINA officer-in-charge Narciso Vingson Jr. revealed the plan during the Maritime Safety Summit in Manila on Aug. 30.
At present, 80 percent of the 7,000 registered ships in the country are wooden-hulled vessels. House Deputy Speaker Mujib Hataman, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, urged the Department of Transportation and MARINA to defer the implementation of the order stopping the registration of new wooden-hulled passenger boats and first conduct a public consultation on the matter. He said the phase-out will affect majority of Filipinos, not only those along the coastal provinces that depend on the boat-making industry but also island-to-island transportation and fishing.
Deputy Speaker Hataman believes we should not rush the solution until we have asked first all stakeholders concerned. It is not only in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao that the livelihood of boat transport is found but all over the archipelago.
MARINA has not yet announced details about the assistance they will be offering but it has started refusing to register wooden-hulled vessels in the past two weeks. Hataman doesn’t think people can afford to buy fiberglass boats with prices ranging from P5 million to P8 million based on estimates by MARINA itself. How much more for the steel-hulled vessels? Our poor fishermen will be at the losing end, he added.
On May 8, 2018 our column was titled “Let us Develop our Uninhabited Islands”. We mentioned about our uninhabited islands in the Philippine archipelago reaching 7,507, including 400 new islands that were discovered in February 2017. However, according to tge NAMRIA, only 2,000 of them are inhabited and identified while the remaining 5,507 do not even have names yet.
We said then that it is about time our government explore these islands after so many years of not doing anything about them. Then Congress should pass a law to open them to settlers.
With the total phase-out of wooden-hulled boats, now the idea of discovering and exploring the unknown islands and settling in them will be lost to the ordinary Filipino.
Will the fisherman at the beachfront barangays and river banks be still allowed to use his wooden bancas?
GEM OF THOUGHT
“A word for the wise ain’t necessary. It is the stupid ones that need advice.” – Bill Crosby
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