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DFA urges MARINA to comply with seafarers' training requirements after failing EU assessment

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday urged the Maritime Industry Authority to immediately comply with global safety training requirements for  Filipino seafarers after the Philippines failed a recent assessment by the European Union.

Filipino sailors may no longer work on board EU-flagged ships if the Philippines  would fail to address the deficiencies by March 10, 2022—the deadline set by the European bloc.

"We strongly urge MARINA to comply. The livelihoods of thousands of our seafarers are at stake," the DFA said in a statement.

MARINA is responsible for the implementation of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) convention.

The global shipping industry, which carries 80 percent of international trade, employs about 1.2 million seafarers, mostly from the Philippines.

About one out of five foreign seafarers on EU flagged ships is Filipino.

"The European Commission therefore sincerely hopes that, by March 10th, the Philippines will have conducted the necessary internal reforms and amendments to comply fully with the STCW requirements," the EU said in an earlier statement.

Following an inspection conducted in 2020, the European Commission notified the Philippines of a number of deficiencies, including serious ones, such as in Philippine seafarers’ education, training and certification system. In their findings, the commission said the Philippines failed to guarantee that the requirements of the STCW Convention were met.

"Inconsistences have been identified in relation to the competences covered by the education and training programmes leading to the issuing of officers’ certificates, as well as in several approved programmes regarding teaching and examination methods, facilities and equipment," the EU said.

Certain inconsistencies have also been identified in the monitoring of inspections and evaluations of the schools, as well as "concerning findings" regarding simulators and on-board training.

The European Commission, with the assistance of the European Maritime Safety Agency, will assess the reply of the Philippines and will determine a course of action.

In case of a negative assessment, the European Union might eventually withdraw the recognition of the Philippines STCW system and the certificates for masters and officers delivered by the Philippine maritime schools.

Existing certificates for masters and officers would continue to be recognized until the time of their natural expiry, but new certificates would not be recognized to work on EU flagged ships.

Recognizing the significant contribution of seafarers to the Philippine economy and to Europe,  the EU said it is committed to working with Manila to address concerns on its maritime safety training and education. —NB, GMA News