The Sangguniang Panlalawigan adopted two resolutions supporting the establishment of of a Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Regional Office in Puerto Princesa City, during its regular session on Tuesday.

The resolutions were proposed by Board Member Winston Arzaga, which he said was sought by MARINA Deputy Administrator Sonia Malaluan.

Arzaga said he was informed by Malaluan about House Bill 734 or the “Act Establishing a MARINA Regional Office in Puerto Princesa City and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” filed by Marino Party List Representative Sandro Gonzales.

Gonzales filed the bill on July 27, 2022 and is now pending at the House Committee on Transportation.

Gonzales explained in his bill that MIMAROPA Region where Puerto Princesa City belongs is an important area that contributes to the economic development.

“The region hosts an integral part of the Road Roll On/Roll Off (RoRo) Terminal System (RRTS under the Strong Republic National Highway via Roxas-Calapan route and missionary routes linking its island provinces to Luzon,” he stated in the bill’s explanatory note.

“The need for accessible government services through a regional office of MARINA catering to maritime-related activities in the region is intertwined with its archipelagic configuration and socio-economic importance,” he added

Arzaga on the other stated that the establishment of a MARINA regional office in the city will make it easier for pump boat operators to process their documents.

“This will ease the burden of our constituents because as of now, their applications still have to be brought to Batangas for processing and final issuance. Once the regional office is established here, you can imagine the savings in terms of time, money, and effort of our constituents,” Arzaga said in his privilege speech.

He then proposed two resolutions, one supporting House Bill 734 and another, requesting Reps. Jose Alvarez, Edward Hagedorn and Edgardo Salvame, to work hand in hand with Rep. Gonzales for the early passage of the bill.

Furthermore, he said MARINA is also looking at the possibility of conducting a regular mobile registration of bancas in El Nido as well as Coron and San Vicente where there are also many boat operators.

“Once finalized, this will put an end to the agony of pump boat operators in going to Puerto Princesa and spending a lot of money. This will ease up a lot of restriction in the renewal of permits,” he said.

Meanwhile, Arzaga also said that in a dialogue with pump boat operators and owners of El Nido, Malaluan clarified that pump boats used for island hopping and other tourism purposes are exempted from being phased out.

He said Malaluan made the clarification after a pump boat operator raised the issue saying they were informed by MARINA authorities in the province “to brace up” for the phase out of bancas with wooden hulls, in reference to MARINA Memorandum Circular .2016-02.

Under the said memo, wooden-hulled ships used in river-crossing and those exclusively for DOT-identified tourist destinations and other tourist, sports and recreational activities, are exempted from the phase out.

“Malaluan stated it very clear that El Nido is exempted from the requirements where pump boats are used for tourism purposes,” Arzaga said.

“Definitely, what we are saying now is that the pump boats being used for island hopping will remain as it is because from the point of view of MARINA, these are added attractions to tourism destinations,” he added.

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