MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 279, apprising the Senate of the urgency to probe into the quality of the country’s seafarer’s training, amid reports of the Philippines’ failure to pass the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) evaluation, putting some 50,000 Filipino seafarers’ jobs at risk due to possible European Union (EU) ban.
Hontiveros said that should Filipino seafarers be banned by the EU due to non-compliance with the international standards, this “risks not only substantial economic disruption, but also substantial damage to the reputation of the Philippine maritime industry”.
“Nakataya ang reputasyon at trabaho, pati na rin ang kapakanan ng mga pamilya ng 400,000 Pilipinong marino sa buong mundo sa isyung ito,” she said.
(This issue puts the reputation, work, and the welfare of the families of 400,000 Filipino seafarers all over the world at stake.)
“Matinding gulo sa eknomiya natin ang haharapin natin if ship owners and operators look elsewhere for seafarers to crew their vessels. It will be very hard for our country to recover,” the senator added.
It can be noted that Filipino seafarers are a major contributor to the Philippine economy, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), having remitted USD 6.54 Billion in 2021.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista earlier allayed fears of the EU ban, saying: “It’s important to say that we should not be alarmed by this because we did not fail the audit. There were findings. There were observations but the Philippine government through Marina (Maritime Industry Authority), through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of Migrant Workers, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), and the Coast Guard are working together to address all these issues.”
“Basically, itong mga findings nila ay tungkol sa training standards ng mga schools natin. Mayroong mga issue na hindi nagagamit ‘yung mga tamang equipment. Hindi nagkakaroon ng tamang onboard training and hindi namo-monitor ang training programs ng various schools,” he said.
(Basically, their (EMSA’s) findings are about the training standards of our schools. Issues regarding not utilizing the right equipment, no proper onboard training, and no monitoring of training programs of various schools.)
Bautista said during the virtual press briefing that the CHED already reviewed the curriculum of maritime schools and some non-compliant schools were already closed. He also noted that the government has already submitted its response to EMSA.
Hontiveros however highlighted that the EMSA has been flagging the country’s maritime training since 2006.
“16 na taon na pala tayong binibigyan ng warning. It’s high time we summon MARINA and CHED to the Senate, para maaksyunan na itong mga reporma. They need to show Congress that they are taking definite steps to resolve this issue. One of the shortcomings listed was that kahit program design ng maritime courses hindi pa na-finalize ng CHED. This is one of our most important industries, dapat may sense of urgency. We need to honor our commitments under the STCW Convention. This will also help us maintain our status in the IMO whitelist,” she said.
Hontiveros also cited “an urgent need to pass the Magna Carta for Seafarers, particularly the provisions on government support for their educational advancement and training at reasonable and affordable costs.”
“Long term reforms will ensure better job security and employability of our seafarers. With all the sacrifices marinos make doing this dangerous job far away from their families, we also owe them up-to-date training that can save their lives and those of their passengers,” she concluded.
– with reports from GMA News Online