A group of Filipino seafarers has filed a complaint against several officials of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for allegedly arrogating authority in implementing an executive order aimed at providing incentives for using newly-constructed ships.
In his 11-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday, Nelson Ramirez, president of the United Filipino Seafarers, accused MARINA administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Grave Misconduct, Grave Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service.
Also included in the complaint were former MARINA administrator Dr. Maximo Mejia Jr., deputy administrator for operations Atty. Gloria Banas, and board members Benel Lagua, Jonathan Tariman, Hector Miole, Romell Cuenca, Emma Panopio, Dario Alampay, and Roberto Umali.
The complaint stemmed from the respondents' approval of MARINA Circular (MC) 2015-04, which serves as the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order (EO) No. 909 series of 2010, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
According to the complaint, EO 909 was signed "to encourage investments in newly constructed ships or brand new vessels in the domestic shipping industry by providing incentives therefore."
But after MARINA's approval of MC 2015-04, several ship owners with newly-acquired International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) status were awarded with "Pioneer Status."
This entitled the said ship owners with the incentives provided in the EO, such as protection of investment for six years and payment of only 50 percent of the regular fees for application and renewal of ship documents, licenses, certificates, and permits.
Meanwhile, owners with brand new non-IACS class ships and those operating second hand vessels "were treated like second class citizens."
Ramirez argued that the EO did not grant MARINA authority to award "Pioneer Status" to brand new ships.
"Nowhere in EO 909 does it state that MARINA may grant 'Pioneer Status' to qualified ship owners and operators. It was excluded because the power is vested exclusively with BOI," his complaint read.
"Respondents' approval of MC 2015-04 took this power away from BOI and arrogated it to MARINA," it added.
Ramirez also said that the approval of MC 2015-04 expanded the coverage of EO 909 to include route protection, priority in the issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), dry docking of vessels, and special ramp/berth facility.
"There is nothing in EO 909 that allows MARINA to impose a moratorium of six years on the deployment of ships in routes being used by grantees of 'Pioneer Status.' This '6 years' is an anomaly created and inserted in MC 2015-04 and approved by respondents," the complaint read.
Aside from the filing of information, Ramirez also asked the Ombudsman to order the dismissal or suspension of the respondents. — MDM, GMA News