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PHL given 3 months to comply with EU standards on seafarers

SEAFARER OATHTAKING — MARINA.GOV.PH

THE PHILIPPINE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on Sunday gave assurance that it is working to improve the country’s standards on seafarer training and certification as President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. announced on Saturday that the country had been given three months to comply with European Union (EU) standards.

“Marina is doing its best and exploring all possible measures,” Marina Officer-in-Charge Samuel L. Batalla said in a Viber message.

He said among the steps taken include “technical cooperation projects and bilateral agreements, to sustain the recognition of the European Union to the STCW ( Standards of  Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) certificates issued by the Philippines to seafarer officers.”

The president, during his visit to Brussels for the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit last week, ordered the creation of an advisory board that would address concerns relating to Filipino seafarers.

The Philippines was given three months from the creation of the advisory board by the European Commission to remedy all the deficiencies pointed out by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Mr. Marcos noted in his return speech from Belgium streamed live on Facebook.

EMSA raised the issues following an inspection in March.

Mr. Batalla noted that the president invited Marina to a Cabinet meeting on October 11 to work on improving the accreditation of seafarers.

This was the first time the agency was invited to a Cabinet meeting since its creation in 1974, he said.

EMSA’s review pointed out that Marina and the Commission on Higher Education had failed to ensure that all training and assessment activities were administered in compliance with global maritime standards.

Since the assessment, Marina has been holding workshops with its partner institutions to cooperate on the maritime industry’s shortcomings, Mr. Batalla said.

Almost 50,000 Filipino seamen working in European vessels could lose their jobs if the Philippines did not address these deficiencies, the EU agency noted.

Filipino seafarers sent home $6.5 billion in remittances last year, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a report last year that the Philippines was the top global provider of seafarers.

The proposed advisory council will be made up of various government agencies with the goal of preventing job losses of almost 600,000 Filipino seafarers worldwide.

“As part of the whole of government approach, Marina involved and consulted with all concerned stakeholders on the corrective actions being undertaken by the Maritime administration,” Mr. Batalla said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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