Two party-list lawmakers representing seamen on Thursday urged maritime schools to comply with the standards set by international organizations.
Rep. Sandro Gonzalez of Marino Party-list made the statement in the wake of reports that 61 out of the 91 maritime schools in the country are recommended for closure for non-compliance with the standards set by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
The Philippines is undergoing an audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency on its STCW compliance, failure in which would put thousands of seafarer jobs at risk, as certificates of Filipino seafarers would no longer be honored by the European Union, the party-list group said.
“I am deeply disturbed that this only came to light now when it was already known we have problems as early as 2006. The fact that these schools were able to operate after several administrations without being caught points to a problem with the regulatory agencies, something that we need to address to maintain the credibility and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers around the world,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, vice chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, said he will file a resolution to look into the matter.
The Commission on Higher Education and the Maritime Industry Authority share responsibility over maritime schools under Executive Order 63, series of 2018.
Marino Party-list Second Rep. Macnell Lusotan said the congressional inquiry is necessary to find out what went wrong.
“Perhaps the problem is due to the two agencies not being clear on who is responsible for what. Perhaps the reason is corruption. Perhaps the reason is incompetence. We will find out why and address the matter properly,” said Lusotan.
The two congressmen said, “closing two-thirds of maritime schools in the country will severely affect our ability to produce more seafarers, affect the credibility of all alumni of Philippine maritime schools, and create a huge impact on our economy.”
“With the entire seafarer sector at stake, the government must move and move quickly,” said Gonzalez.