The recent revelation of a Coast Guard official that the Maritime Industry Authority has lost touch with the number of registered motor boats in the country is surprising. The Marina, after all, is is an agency of the Philippine government responsible for integrating the development, promotion and regulation of the maritime industry.
As an agency, the Marina has jurisdiction over the development, promotion and regulation of all enterprises engaged in the business of designing, constructing, manufacturing, acquiring, operating, supplying, repairing, and/or maintaining vessels, among many other functions.
But according to Lt. Commander Agapito Bibat, the chief of the Dumaguete Coast Guard station, the lack of information on the state of motorboats is because the authority to register them had been devolved to local government units starting in 2005.
This came to the fore after it was learned that a motorboat which capsized while ferrying passengers to Apo Island last April 4 from Selinog Island in Mindanao, was unregistered.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of badly maintained boats, weak enforcement of safety regulations and tropical storms.
Having tropical storms is bad enough and this cannot be prevented. But poor maintenance of boats and the weak enforcement of safety regulations is something that can be proactively addressed.
If the Marina, Coast Guard and local government units get their acts together in ensuring the safety of these motor boats, the riding public would be safer.