THE JOINT Manning Group (JMG), umbrella organization of manning agencies composed of FAME, FSA, INTERMAP, PAMAS, PJMCC and COMMA held a timely, half day conference and symposium on “Piracy: Practical Measures to Deter, Delay & Avoid Piracy Attacks” last June 15, 2009 at Macapagal Hall, Landbank Plaza Malate, Manila, Philippines.

The symposium was envisioned by the JMG to help respond to the pressing problem of piracy in the high seas particularly in Gulf of Aden. Over 200 representatives from manning companies and maritime organizations participated the conference. Mr. Tim Wilkins, Regional Manager for Asia-Pacific of INTERTANKO Asia, delivered the key presentation on the East Africa/Somalia situation and discussed practical measures to defend against hijacking or piracy while providing an update on the situation in the Gulf of Aden. The symposium was also organized as a respond and commitment of the Industry to the government resolution to train all the seafarers on piracy prior joining.

Mr. Marlon Roño, Chairman of the JMG and President of the Filipino Association for Mariners’ Employment, Inc. (FAME); Mr. Ericson Marquez, Board Secretary of the Philippine Japan Manning Consultative Council (PJMCC) and co-chairman of the JMG and Atty. Vincent Miranda, President of the Philippine Association of Manning Agencies & Ship Managers (PAMAS) represented the manning companies and each addressed the symposium. As head of the JMG, Mr. Roño announced that the second phase of the undertaking would be the production and dissemination of a training video to be supported by the PJMCC-IMMAJ (International Mariners Management Association of Japan) Foundation and the Japanese Shipowners Association (JSA) on protecting against piracy. He also appealed to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for support.

Speakers from the government included Ms. Jennifer Manalili, Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA); Mr. Albert Valenciano, OWWA Director and Ms. Ma. Elena Bautista, Administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA). During the symposium, Adm. Manalili officially announced the promulgation of Governing Board Resolution no. 05, which overseas the deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. Important conditions that need to be satisfied before deployment takes place are the assurance that vessels will only travel within the Maritime Security Patrol Area, execution of an Appropriate Security Plan that includes having security escorts convoying the said vessels in that area and the provision by manning agencies of training programs to counter piracy. The resolution will take effect on June 30. Adm. Manalili also announced that the implementing rules will also be prepared soon upon consultation with the industry.

For its part, the OWWA guaranteed assistance to families of victims of piracy, while Adm. Bautista of MARINA gave an update on Philippine flag vessels security advisory and the ongoing inter-agency discussions with the International Maritime Organization/United Nations.

The event was sponsored by IMMAJ-PJMCC Foundation Inc. and JSA, with the support of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO).