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EU may ban PH seamen over training deficiencies

PH to lose $700M in remittances

MANILA, Philippines—Filipino seamen could be banned from European ships and the Philippines could lose $700 million in remittances if “deficiencies” in the seamen’s training and education were not addressed, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) warned on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the two agencies said the European Union (EU) could blacklist Filipino seamen to prevent them from boarding EU member flagged vessels or even the cancellation of their existing contracts.

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European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) representatives arrived in the country on Wednesday to check if the government had successfully implemented the “corrective” measures it promised.

“The EMSA audit conducted on Philippine maritime education, training, and certification system is a matter of national interest considering that any action or decision rendered by the European Commission based on the EMSA findings will determine the fate of Filipino seafarers as far as employment of these seafarers on European flag vessels is concerned,” the DOLE and CHEd statement said.

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“The failure of the Philippines to rectify the deficiencies noted by the EMSA will trigger the European Commission proceedings on the withdrawal of European Union’s (EU) recognition of certificates issued by the Philippine government to Filipino seafarers, which may result in non-hiring of such seafarers on board EU member flagged vessels, as well as pre-termination of contracts of those on board,” it added.

The two agencies issued the statement after Quezon City Judge Rosa Samson last month stopped the closure of the Philippine Maritime Institute’s (PMI) Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering (BSMarE).

Emsa earlier recommended the closure of the two maritime courses of PMI and two other schools after they were discovered to be “deficient.” The Philippine government had promised to close down these courses.

But DOLE and CHEd said the court’s writ of preliminary injunction “could be looked upon as a nullification of one of the corrective actions” submitted by the Philippines to the European Commission.

“The withdrawal of EU’s recognition could threaten the position of the Philippines in the International Maritime Organization “White List” of countries that are compliant with the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers and will definitely have a detrimental effect not only on the country’s reputation in the international maritime community but also on the nation’s economy,” the statement said.

It also insisted that CHEd had the authority to close PMI’s BSMT and BSMarE programs and that the school had been given “a series of extension of deadlines to rectify the deficiencies” and yet it still failed to comply.

“In the court proceedings, PMI did not even deny the noted deficiencies which are indicated in the CHEd Reports bearing the signatures of PMI officials,” the statement said.

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It added that CHEd records showed that PMI had “several gross deficiencies,” particularly on program administration, faculty, laboratory equipment, library and research and development.

“PMI had not been able to correct these despite several opportunities given to it from SY 2006-2007 even until the second semester of SY 2010-2011,” the statement said.

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TAGS: Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment, European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), European Union, maritime education, Overseas Filipino workers, Philippine government, Philippine Maritime Institute, seafarers ships, seamen
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