By Raffy Ayeng /Manila Times
A group of seafarers lambasted the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) yesterday for failing to implement global maritime standards, saying the agency’s inability to comply with reporting requirements placed thousands of jobs at risk.
United Filipino Seafarers president Nelson Ramirez made the statement in reaction to a Manila Times exclusive report that the Philippines was in danger of dropping out of the “White List” of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of countries compliant with the amended International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) of 1978.
A document containing minutes of a meeting of the IMO Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) during its sixth session this year, obtained by Manila Times, indicated that the Philippines could be excluded from the IMO White List.
Ramirez, who represents more than 54,000 seafarers, said Marina was “unreliable” in shouldering all the responsibilities it had inherited from the abolished Maritime Training Council (MTC) of the Department of Labour and Employment and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
“If the seafaring industry will sink, there is no one to be blamed but Marina.
You took over the job of the MTC and PRC and you said that you could grip it.
Look what happened? This is the start of a catastrophe looming to happen and what is at stake here is the bread and butter of our more than 400,000 Filipino seafarers,” Ramirez said.
Under Republic Act 10635 that overhauled Marina’s mandate in 2014, the agency assumed the powers, duties and functions of PRC in the examination, licensing and certification of marine deck and engine officers, as the single maritime administration responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the 1978 STCW.
Ramirez said removal from the IMO White List would be a clear blow to the seafaring industry, whose deployment had dwindled since 2006 when the Philippines failed the audit of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
“This is a big blow to the reputation of the Filipino seafarer.
Slowly, we will definitely lose our prestige as the most sought-after seafaring nation, which had been snatched from us years ago.
“Marina keeps on saying that they are patching the loopholes seen by international auditors but obviously failed to do good to redeem the glory of the industry.
I hope EMSA will not rely on IMO’s verdict to exclude the Philippines in the ‘White List.’ But if they realise this, doomsday is coming for Pinoy seafarers,” Ramirez said.
In September, EMSA will release the final result of a maritime audit on the Philippines conducted last year.
Marina will convene and finalise its report in April prior to EMSA verdict.
Marina yesterday said it had submitted corrective measures to address the adverse findings of EMSA auditors. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade met with IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim in London last year to stress the competitiveness of Filipino seafarers, and to note the efforts of the Philippines in addressing the observations of EMSA auditors.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairman Prospero “Popoy” de Vera Jr to promote the welfare of Filipino seafarers by tapping respectable auditors in checking the country’s maritime schools.
“Popoy (de Vera), there’s lotta work out there on the fate of our seafarers on the best paying bottoms — EU (European Union) ships,” Locsin said in his Twitter account.
“It has to do with getting an independent audit of our maritime schools by internationally respected international auditors respected by the EU,” he added.In October 2018, the CHEd, Marina, Department of Health and Philippine Coast Guard signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Executive Order 63 strengthening Marina’s authority in implementing the 1978 STCW.
De Vera had reiterated his agency’s commitment to comply with the 1978 STCW Convention “which can be attained through concerted efforts of government agencies.”
He noted that Philippine maritime education programmes “have been under scrutiny” over concerns raised by the EMSA on compliance with the 1978 STCW.
Sen. Joel Villanueva yesterday expressed deep concern over the possibility of the Philippines being dropped from the White List or the list of countries compliant with global maritime standards.
He urged Marina to speed up efforts to update the IMO with the implementation of the revised 1978 STCW and ensure the country’s compliance with this convention in order to protect the jobs of Filipino seafarers. “On our part, one of the initiatives to address the gap in compliance with the Maritime Labor Convention and the STCW is the passage of Magna Carta of Seafarers,” according to Villanueva, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour.
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