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Pinoy Abroad

Ople says ‘crisis averted’ after EU continues to recognize Pinoy seafarers

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople on Saturday lauded the European Union’s decision to continue its recognition of the certificates issued by the Philippines to Filipino seafarers to onboard European vessels.

“With this decision, a crisis of monumental proportions has just been averted,” Ople said in a statement.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) chief noted that roughly 50,000 jobs of Filipino masters and officers aboard European vessels have been saved in light of the decision.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Friday announced that it will continue to recognize the certificates issued for seafarers by the Philippines, months after it warned Filipino maritime workers may be banned from its vessels following the country’s repeated failure to hurdle the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)’s evaluation in the past 16 years. 

The regional bloc cited the country’s “serious efforts to comply with the requirements, in particular in key areas like the monitoring, supervision and evaluation of training and assessment.”

With this, Ople expressed the DMW’s “most sincere gratitude” to the EC for its decision to continue recognizing certificates for seafarers issued by the Philippines.

“We look forward to the start of technical cooperation between the Philippines and EC in professionalizing and further improving the skills of Filipino seafarers,” she said.

Ople said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr met EU President Ursula von der Leyen in the margins of the EU-ASEAN Summit to discuss technical cooperation to improve the education, training and certification system for Filipino seafarers.

In December 2022, the EMSA notified the Philippines of some deficiencies, including serious ones, such as in the Philippine seafarers’ education, training, and certification system.

In their findings, the commission said the Philippines failed to guarantee that the requirements of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) convention were met. Non-compliance with STCW, the EU warned, would bar Philippine seafarers from boarding European-flagged vessels.

With this, the President also issued several directives to the DMW, the Department of Transportation, Maritime Industry Authority, and Commission on Higher Education on STCW compliance.

“The President has been consistent and relentless in taking up the cudgels for our Filipino seafarers,” Ople said.

She also commended the leadership of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista who has been working hard to accelerate reforms in the maritime sector and to present the country’s roadmap to the diplomatic and business community. —KG, GMA Integrated News