By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Philippines, through the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), asserted its position in the revised “White List” of Parties to the STCW Convention, a list of countries that are compliant with the standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The Philippine delegation made this assertion on the White List being prepared by the Secretariat of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) during the 6th session of the IMO Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW6) currently held at the IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom from 29 April to 03 May 2019.
During the Sub-Committee’s session on 30 April, the Philippine delegation, together with delegations from other Parties of the STCW Convention, raised issues and questions to the Sub-committee and the IMO Secretariat regarding the sudden review and preparation of a draft revised White List, the procedures of the said review, and the criteria for issuance of a revised list.
According to Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Officer-in-Charge Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr, no white list has been officially issued by the IMO excluding the Philippines. But, to thresh out issues and concerns, the creation of a “Working Group” was agreed upon, so as to review the consistency of evaluation, and the competency of those who would review.
“First, I would like to clarify that the IMO has not issued a ‘White List’ which does not include the Philippines. Nonetheless, it was agreed upon in one of the sessions that a TWG be established to work on all issues raised,” Vice Admiral Vingson said.
“The positive developments were attained due to the effort, commitment, and support of the entire team,” Vingson added.
For his part, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade welcomed the recent development, and challenged the Marina to exert all the necessary efforts to prepare for the independent evaluation, which is part of the Philippines’ compliance as a Party to the STCW Convention.
In fact, before the delegation left for London, Secretary Tugade has directed the MARINA to ensure the country’s compliance with IMO standards to firmly secure the livelihood of thousands of Filipino seafarers.
“This is good news for our maritime industry and the entire country. May this be treated as a challenge so that the Marina and other concerned agencies perform at their best to prepare accordingly for the Independent Evaluation. We need to make sure that we will exert all the necessary efforts, commitment and support to make this next mission successful,” Secretary Tugade said.
In response, Vingson reaffirmed MARINA’s unwavering commitment to do its utmost to maintain the country’s status in the IMO White List.
“We accept the challenge of the Secretary. Rest assured that the Marina remains fully committed to steadily sustain the Philippines’ full compliance with the STCW Convention. We will continue to do everything we can to maintain our status in the IMO White List,” the Marina OIC Administrator said.
“All necessary steps to consistently improve the country’s maritime education, training, examination, and assessment system are being undertaken and prioritized,” Vingson added.
The so-called “White List” refers to a list of parties confirmed by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to have communicated information that demonstrates full and complete effect to the relevant provisions of the STCW.
Earlier this year, MARINA noted of false reports on the Philippines’ alleged exclusion from the IMO White List, which unfortunately generated undue panic to over 400,000 seafarers and their families.