By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is confident it will hurdle the next audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the country’s competence of Filipino seafarers having complied with the global seafaring standards.
Vice Admiral Narciso Vingzon Jr., officer in charge of Marina, said at the Maritime Forum 2019 on “Beyond the Horizon: Looking at the Future of Philippine Maritime Sector” that the Philippines is assured of continued accreditation having already submitted documents to show proof of compliance to EMSA on the country’s maritime schools and training facilities standards and for implementing reforms under Executive Order (EO) 63.
Among these are the amended legislations, inter-agency cooperation initiatives, and good governance measures on the administration of maritime education and training programs, assessment of seafarer competence, and the issuance of Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW) certificates.
Vingson said that their ongoing evaluation of the country’s 90 maritime schools would be completed by end of this month and the results are expected early February next year.
Maritime schools and training institutions that do not comply and meet the standards set by EMSA in terms of quality of training, equipment and facilities will lose their Marina accreditation.
EO 63 has further strengthened Marina, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Health’s collaboration to ensure that Filipino seafarers are “well-educated, equipped and competent.”
“EO 63 further harmonizes coordination of Marina, CHED and DOH to produce world- class global seafarers in terms of education, training, fitness and attitude,” Vingson said.
He downplayed any worries about the upcoming EMSA inspection.
While he also acknowledged some delays in the implementation of some requirements, Vingson said the Philippines is just in time for the EMSA review in February next year. EO 63, however, would be fully implemented for school year 2020-2021 yet.
“Yes of course, we are compliant,” he said.
Graduates of maritime schools are required to undergo three-year classroom education and one year sea service either onboard international shipping lines or inter-island apprenticeship.
In fact, Vingson said that among countries that supply seafarers, only the Philippines has required a four-year maritime course.
“We need the private sector to support us in terms of disseminating correct information that we are the New Marina.
This is not a competition among us, but for other countries to support the government so we can maintain as major producer of globally competent seafarers. Do not rely on fake news but on correct information,” said Vingson.
Meantime, Per Arne Waloen, senior surveyor at the Norwegian Maritime Authority, who represented the agency at the forum, was “cautious” on the Philippines’ standing in next year’s EMSA audit results.
He said that Marina is running out of time for the implementation of EO 63.
He said it will take a little more time to implement these measures while EMSA is set to conduct its compliance review on Feb. 24 to March 13, 2020.