RP To Maintain Seat in
IMO Council -- Alvarez
By Nestor Etolle
Philstar, 05 July 2001

The Philippines' quest to maintain its seat in the International Maritime Organization Council has started to snowball with Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez attending the recent 86th session of IMO in London.

Alvarez represented the DOTC Water Cluster, which has been organized to provide government infrastructure and services to the maritime industry, during the conference from June 18 to 22.

At the same session, IMO Secretary General Wiliam O'Neil praised the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for its successful recovery of hijacked Indonesian vessel MV Inabukwa from pirates off Salomague Port in Ilocos Sur.

With his attendance, Alvarez sought to continue his predecessors' feat of elevating to the country one of eight IMO Council seats in 1997 and 1999.

As a specialized agency of the United Nations, the IMO governs a delegate assembly from 157 countries. Thirty-two member states from three specific groups comprise the IMO Council.

The Philippines maintains a seat in the IMO Council Category C composed of 16 member countries whose special interests were on maritime transport or navigation. The country employed roughly 250,000 Filipino seafarers yearly representing 20 percent of the world's total seamen, making the Philippines the world's foremost supplier of seafarers.

As an IMO Council member, the Philippines can object against or veto any legislated recommendation or resolution disadvantageous to the national interests. In addition, specific grievances on maritime environmental protection and sea pollution control have been coursed through meetings of this committee.

Alvarez also sought to maintain the position of the Philippine maritime industry within strategic competitive edge amidst globalization trends and strains in the world market.

Another basic consideration to justify the political positioning in the international arena is inspired, according to Alvarez, by the fact that the Philippines belongs to an elite echelon of member states employing high combined vessel gross tonnage inherent in a country whose primary means of passengers and trade transport are water transportation.

The Alvarez-led delegation is composed of Philippine Coast Guard commandant Rear Admiral Reuben Lista, Marina Administrator Oscar Sevilla and Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Al Cusi.

With the country's highly praised performance in the international maritime community, Alvarez is optimistic that the Philippines will once again gain a seat in the IMO Council elections in November.


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