In his first official visit to the country after assuming office last January 2, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Koji Sekimiz underscored the importance the IMO has bestowed on the Philippines as a maritime country and a primary source of highly-qualified and competent maritime professionals worldwide.
Secretary General Sekimizu was warmly welcomed by PTC Chairman, Ambassador Carlos C. Salinas and other PTC officials; members of the IMO Regional Presence for Technical Co-operation in East Asia headed by Regional Coordinator Atty. Brenda V. Pimentel; representatives of the Filipino Shipowners Association (FSA); and alumni of the World Maritime University and the International Maritime Law Institute.
A brief closed-door meeting took place between the Secretary General and the IMO regional officers, followed by a tour of the Philippine Center for Advanced Maritime Simulation and Training, Inc. (PHILCAMSAT), an internationally-certified training center dedicated to the continuing professional advancement of Filipino seafarers. Highly-impressed with PHILCAMSAT’s world-class training facilities, Secretary General Sekimizu experimented with one of its full bridge simulators.
The affair was capped with a welcome cocktail in his honor and a toast by PTC CEO Gerardo Borromeo. The Secretary General expressed his sincere gratitude for the warm reception he was accorded and mentioned that “there are a lot of similiarities between the Philippines with its over 7,000 islands and my country (Japan) where both are surrounded by oceans and are maritime countries. So although I am roughly 6,000 miles away, I feel so at home. “ He added that, “we should protect and take care of our oceans and make good use of them.”
He also assured everyone that in his capacity as IMO Secretray General, the organization shall remain committed to addressing relevant issues concerning the Philippine maritime industry such as seafarer safety, training and development and the shipping industry’s role in environmental protection.
The Secretary General was also the Guest of Honor at a Lunch Forum hosted by the Filipino Shipowners Association (FSA) together with the Joint Manning Group (JMG) composed of various maritime associations and organizations in the Philippines. Attended by various stakeholders from the Philippine maritime industry, the event focused on discussions concerning crucial maritime affairs including the STCW Manila Amendments, the EMSA report on the country’s compliance to STCW requirements, anti-piracy efforts, and the importance of Filipino seafarers to the world’s merchant fleet.
Earlier in his itinerary, he Secretary General made a courtesy call to MalacaÃ±ang upon his arrival in the country, when he informed President Benigno Aquino III of IMO’s support for the further development of the country’s maritime industry.
Also present during the courtesy call to the President were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel Roxas, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Emerson Lorenzo and Ambassador Carlos Salinas.