By Emmie V. Abadilla
The Philippines is complying with the observations of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to attain world-class standard for its seafarers.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade informed International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Kitack Lim of this during last week’s meeting in London, the United Kingdom.
Next month, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will make a presentation to the EMSA regarding its compliance to audit findings made in 2017 about the country’s certification system with the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers.
Ensuring the country will comply with international standards, President Rodrigo Duterte recently issued Executive Order (EO) No. 63, directing Marina as the single Maritime Administration to harmonize STCW implementation on maritime education and training, medical examination and port state control inspection.
Already, the Marina revised seven circulars governing the issuance and revalidation of STCW Certificates and assessment of competence, plus six training course packages.
All have been approved and ready for implementation.
The Marina and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) also forged a Joint Memorandum Circular to monitor maritime education programs being offered by authorized colleges and universities nationwide.
The reconstitution of the Technical Panel for Maritime Education, including five members from Marina and four from CHED was also included under the EO.
Furthermore, the Marina continues to implement the requirements of the STCW Convention such as restructuring the Marina-STCW Office, issuing a comprehensive Action Plan and Task Force for compliance, monitoring of maritime higher education institutions and Shipboard Training in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The agency likewise completed its IT system for Surveillance, Accreditation and Monitoring to improve traceability, effectiveness, and control of documents and records.
“We are compliant with international standards and we will continue to produce competent Filipino seafarers who carry with them our brand of excellence and hard work,” noted Secretary Tugade.
So far, the Marina has improved its services to cater to Filipino seafarers, shortened the issuance of the Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB) from 15 days to one day and now offers an online appointment system.
The agency has scrapped uniform rental fees for applicants as well as upgraded and automated exams.
The Philippines is doing a lot of positive developments in the past two years, IMO Sec. Gen. Lim acknowledged during the meeting with the DOTr.
The Philippines is a very important member of the IMO, given its well-motivated maritime workforce, he elaborated. In fact, he often cites Filipino seafarers as examples to other countries for their diligence and discipline.