The deployment of a host of new Filipino seafarers to the EU vessels and jobs of 50,000 others employed on EU-flagged vessels are at risk should the Philippines fail to comply with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for the Seafarers (STCW Convention), the House committee on overseas workers affairs got to know during a hearing that took place on Thursday.
The committee reported that the final evaluation by the European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) of the nation’s STCW compliance is set for November; where the EU panel could reportedly withdraw the recognition of the qualifications of Filipino seafarers to be appointed as officers on Europe-based vessels if it finds the concerns it had raised several years back remain unresolved.
The deployment of Filipino seafarers to Europe will stop should the Emsa makes an adverse finding on the country’s compliance next month. While those m deployed on EU-flagged vessels would not lose their jobs immediately, they’d be permitted to work as first mates, captains, and second mates until their STCW certificates expire.
Per Jerome Pampolina, the assistant secretary for sea-based services at the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the nation until now hasn’t been able to pass the Emsa audit since 2006 or for over a decade, adding that he was informed that this would be the ultimate year for the Philippines to take concrete and corrective measures to ensure compliance.
In February 2022, the EU urged the Philippines to strengthen its efforts to comply with the STCW Convention. It asked the government to submit a written reply formatting. It should contain concrete evidence of the measures taken by the Philippine authorities to establish compliance with the country’s obligations per the STCW Convention.
Following the inspection conducted in 2020, the EU notified the Philippines of several deficiencies in the Philippine seafarers’ education, certification system, and other training.
Inconsistencies were seen ncerningconcerning competencies covered by the education and training programs that led to issuing officers’ certificates and multiple approved programs regarding examination and teaching methods, equipment, and facilities.
Inconsistencies have been identified in monitoring evaluations and inspections of the schools. Besides, there have been many concerning findings about simulators and onboard training, as the EU mentioned earlier.
The Emsa review reportedly covered the main areas of the course and program design, review and approval; monitoring, evaluation, and supervision of training and assessment; examination and assessment of competence; availability and the use of training facilities and simulators; onboard training, and revalidation, issuance, and the registration of certificates along with endorsements.
One of five foreign seafarers on EU-flagged vessels, mainly from Greece, Norway, Germany, and Malta, is from the Philippines.
Eduardo Jose de Vega, the Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, said that the issue of Philippine compliance with the STCW had been dragged on for way too long.
Diplomacy has worked earlier in postponing decertification, hence, the complacency.
De Vega mentioned that the Department of Foreign Affairs tends to include the STCW in the topics for discussion when the President, Marcos, visits Brussels in late December.
The officer-in-charge of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) for the executive director, Samuel Batalla’s office, maintained that the agency mandated to lead STCW compliance efforts was working continuously to tackle 23 discrepancies discovered by the Emsa in the 2020 audit.
Batalla added that the Marina and the Commission on Higher Education were working toward establishing updated curricula for the bachelor of science on marine transportation and marine engineering as well as training programs that would comply with the STCW.
The Marina official pointed out that 23 discrepancies cited by the Emsa earlier included the absence of equipment, simulators, and advanced facilities for training seafarers, as well as the lack of procedures for students who are done with training onboard various maritime higher educational institutions.
References: The Star, Inquirer.Net