PHILIPPINE PORTS NOW MORE SECURE
Philippine ports are now more secure following the success of a capacity-building partnership between the Governments of Australia and the Philippines, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Australian Ambassador Rod Smith said today (19 June).
Secretary Mendoza and Ambassador Smith attended a ceremony to mark the culmination of the Philippines Australia Port Security Capacity Building Project (PAPSCBP) in Makati. The project was part of Australia’s A$10 million Counter-Terrorism Assistance Package to the Philippines which aims to strengthen the capacity of Philippine agencies to prevent terrorist threats with a particular focus on law enforcement, border control, port security and regional cooperation.
“This project has strengthened the Philippines’s capacity to combat terrorism through the creation of a national maritime security framework that will reduce the vulnerability of port facilities to security risks,” Ambassador Smith said.
Ambassador Smith said Australia’s assistance had enabled the Philippines to implement the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) which requires countries to take preventive measures against security incidents that may affect international shipping. The PAPSCBP had also assisted the Philippines prepare 112 international port facility security plans that comply with ISPS requirements and 205 domestic ship and port facility plans that comply with the Philippine OTS maritime security program.
“The project has made sea travel much safer for passengers. It has also benefited the Philippine business sector as it encouraged the faster and more secure movement of goods, resulting in more efficient trade for the Philippines and its trading partners,” Ambassador Smith said.
Last March, the Philippines successfully conducted live simulation exercises in Cebu City which tested the coordination and preparedness of local ports in handling security incidents. The exercises highlighted the improved capacity of Philippine agencies to prevent terror attacks in vital port facilities.
“The Philippine Government is grateful for Australia’s continued assistance in enhancing our capability to implement security measures to reduce the vulnerability of our ports from security threats,” Secretary Mendoza said.
Secretary Mendoza added that the project had also helped build the reputation of the Philippine OTS as the lead agency responsible for maritime security and developed close working relationships with other government agencies and private industry bodies with maritime security responsibilities.
Ambassador Smith reiterated the Australian Government’s commitment to assist the Philippines in enhancing its capacity to protect its transport sector against possible security threats. He noted Australia’s support for the passage of the Philippines Transportation Security Bill which will provide the legislative framework and funding for the continued oversight of transport security in the Philippines.
The PAPSCBP was managed by the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and the Philippines Office of Transport Security (OTS), and funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).