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Blacklist of Filipino seafarers in European ships feared

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 11:26 PM December 24, 2013

Sen. Franklin Drilon FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The possibility of Filipino seafarers being blacklisted in European ships because of their unsatisfactory compliance with international standards has prompted a senator to push for a bill that will centralize all training and certification requirements under the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

Senate President Franklin Drilon said Senate Bill No. 2043 will address the concerns expressed by the European Union (EU), particularly auditors from the European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) who said they were “frustrated” with the training and certification system of Filipino seafarers.

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Emsa had noted the “disconnect” between the National Quality Standard Systems set by Marina, and the individual Quality Standard Systems set by other agencies under it, Drilon said, adding that the fragmented system could breed inefficiency.

‘Below par’

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The “below par assessment” by Emsa auditors had cast doubt on the proficiency and competence of Filipino seafarers, who number some 400,000 and make up a fourth of the world’s 1.5 million seafarers, Drilon said.

His bill, the senator said, would empower Marina to act as the one-stop shop and the central maritime administrator of all matters pertaining to compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention).

The EU has expressed an inclination to blacklist Filipino seafarers from EU-flagged vessels because of the country’s unsatisfactory and incomplete observance of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention, the senator said.

The convention sets the global minimum qualifications for masters, officers and watch personnel engaged in international shipping, Drilon said.

Filipino seafarers currently go through the tedious process of training and securing certification from various agencies supervised by Marina, including the Professional Regulation Commission, the Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Department of Health, and the National Telecommunications Commission, the senator said.

‘Imminent threat’

In his sponsorship speech of the measure, Drilon spoke of the “imminent threat” that Filipino seafarers face, which could “capsize our maritime industry,” and added that Marina had expressed its readiness to assume the new functions.

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“Now is the most opportune time for us to comply with our commitments under the STCW Convention as Emsa is still in the process of preparing its audit report for their most recent visit last October,” Drilon said.

“The swift passage of this [bill] will certainly translate to a significant boost in our country’s chances at positively influencing the outcome of the report,” he added.

Emsa welcomes inputs from the Philippine government until the end of next month before it publishes its audit report, Drilon said.

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TAGS: EMSA, EU, European Maritime Safety Agency, European ships, European Union, Filipino seafarers, Franklin Drilon, Marina, Maritime Industry Authority, Senate Bill No. 2043
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