The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has denied reports ted claiming that Filipino seafarers might lose their jobs aboard European Union (EU) ships for non-compliance with EU maritime standards.
Meanwhile, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople asserted that contrary to false reports, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has not stripped MARINA of its authority to train and accredit Filipino seamen.
In a related development, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda assured European Ambassador to the Philippines, Luc Veron, of Congress’ full support to raise the training standards for Filipino seafarers.
The MARINA said the Philippines has submitted a report in March on its “full compliance” to the European Commission’s grievances on the country’s implementation of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention for Seafarers 1978.
The report contained a response and strategic action plan to address the EU’s concerns.
“It was the result of close collaboration among government agencies and maritime industry stakeholders representing maritime education and training, ship management and manning, and seafarers,” the agency said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
It stressed that reports alleging that the Philippines was not compliant with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) were untrue.
Ople also debunked a report that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has “stripped” MARINA of any role in the training and accreditation process due to the country’s failure to pass EMSA evaluations.
She said Marcos directed the various agencies of the Department of Transportation to come up with a joint implementation plan to address the concerns raised by EMSA.
“The directive of the President was for various agencies led by the DoTr to come up with a joint implementation plan to address the concerns raised by EMSA,” the DWM said in a statement.
“The DMW, as well as MARINA, as an attached agency of the DoTr, were included in that directive.” it added.
The issue pertained to the continuous failure of the Philippines to pass the standards for seafarers set by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit.
“The President never ordered MARINA to be removed as an implementing agency nor did I ever say this in any interview.” According to Secretary Ople on the statement released to the media.
“The DMW fully supports the actions being taken by the DoTr and MARINA to ensure compliance with international maritime standards particularly on the education, training and certification of Filipino seafarers.” It added.
“We at the DMW thank the President for his continuing guidance and overwhelming concern for the well-being of all Filipino seafarers,” the DMW said
Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means and the House resident economist, made the statement as the EMSA was set to undertake an audit of the country’s compliance with international training standards by November this year.
“Europe-hired Pinoy seafarers are some of our highest earners. They account for some 50,000 very well-paid jobs. And we could lose a big number of those jobs if we fail the EMSA audit once again this November,” Salceda warned.
Earlier this week, the Department of Migrant Workers announced that it had been mandated by President Marcos, along with other agencies to ensure that the country complies with findings of the EMSA.
“In view of the EMSA audit for compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) this November, and in view of the urgency of keeping logistics secure during this turbulent period for the global economy, please be reassured of my full support for any initiative you may forward on the subject,” Salceda told the European ambassador on Thursday.
“As a senior member of the Congressional leadership team, I would like to express my interest in working with the European Union’s delegation to the Philippines to forward the interests of both Filipino seafarers and European shipping and logistics on areas such as Filipino seafarer training,” the House tax panel chair said. Salceda is also a senior member of other major committees, including the House trade and industry committee.
“I understand that the findings of the European Maritime Safety Agency over the past years put at risk the eligibility for employment of some 50,000 Filipino seafarers, many of whom are my constituents,” Salceda added.
Salceda also offered to boost local efforts of the EU delegation to help Philippine maritime schools improve training.
“Likewise, allow me to offer my district office’s interest in working with the European delegation on improving the training capabilities of maritime schools in Albay province, which I represent,” Salceda wrote the ambassador.
“Over the past few months, European marine industry has relied heavily on Filipino seafarers, who are culturally predisposed towards the West. They have very few problems with us culturally.”
“But we need to boost our training and take serious heed of the concerns of EMSA. We have been failing their audits for at least 16 years already,” Salceda emphasized.
Salceda said that keeping the EU-hired seafaring jobs is critical as the country protects its foreign currency reserves and seeks to recover from what he calls “a fluid domestic jobs situation.”
Salceda said that while “EU is unlikely to ban Pinoy seafarers from their flagged ships, some companies are doubtless going to take seriously the EMSA findings this year. And if the findings are too adverse, some of them might hesitate if not avoid hiring Filipinos. That will surely hurt jobs in the sector.”