Warning: Attempt to read property "post_title" on null in /www/businessmirror_145/public/wp-content/plugins/better-image-credits/better-image-credits.php on line 227
Story updated to correct error in 2nd paragraph
In his recent meeting with International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim in London, Tugade cited “a lot of positive developments” in the Philippine maritime industry over the past two years. He noted improvements in state processes, industry competitiveness and education of Filipino seafarers.
Tugade’s effort is part of the government’s campaign to have the Philippines remain on a white list of countries for maritime manpower. It is feared that the country might be removed from the list should the government fail to tick off several issues on the country’s standards of training, certification and watch keeping (STCW) that were raised by the European body last year.
Tugade presented to Lim the initiatives of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) that addressed the well-being of Filipino seafarers, citing the “hassle-free” issuance of seafarer’s identification and record book, the agency’s online appointment system, the removal of uniform rental fees for applicants, and the upgrading and automating of exams.
According to Tugade, Lim emphasized the importance of Filipino seafarers in the global maritime industry. These men and women, he said, are “highly regarded” in the industry, and are often cited as examples to other countries “for their diligence and discipline.”
The Filipino transportation chief committed to continue to support the initiatives of the IMO, and to continue to push for reforms and policies that will set the bar for a “world-class” local maritime industry.
“We will show the world that we are compliant [with] international standards and that we continue to value and produce competent, disciplined and well-trained Filipino seafarers who carry with them the brand of excellence and hard work that Filipinos are known for everywhere,” Tugade said.
Marina, headed by administrator Leonardo B. Guerrero, is scheduled to present the developments of the local industry to the Emsa this month.
In an interview, Guerrero said Marina will submit the compliance report to the European bloc’s agency, which listed last year several issues on the country’s standards of training, certification and watch keeping (STCW) that may remove the Philippines from the list of whitelisted countries.
“We have already submitted our initial report. We intend to submit our compliance status this month, and by the end of October, we expect that somebody from Emsa will be contacting us for us to demonstrate the proof of evidence for compliance,” he said.
Included in the measures initiated by Marina is the extensive review and revision of seven existing national provisions and the development of six training course packages, all of which, Guerrero said, “are ready for implementation.”
He added that President Duterte’s issuance of Executive Order 63, which further strengthens the authority of Marina in implementing the 1978 International Convention on STCW, is another essential part of the measures being implemented.
The said issuance harmonizes the administration of maritime education programs and fosters interagency cooperation framework among various government agencies, such as the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Health and the Philippine Coast Guard.
It also ensures a stronger Marina representation in the technical panel on maritime education, and provides the agency a more explicit role and authority in the evaluation and inspection of maritime programs.
Last, Marina is “doing the final works” for the launching of an integrated information-technology system that will integrate the agency’s services and processes online. It is set to be formally introduced in 2019.
The Marina Integrated Seafarer Management Online (Mismo) System will allow seafarers to receive their seaman’s book and pay for assessments and certifications online. It also includes the verification of documents, among others.
“We have fully complied as far as Marina is concerned. We have corrected the deficiencies noted —that by the time we will be audited again, they will see that we have instituted measures,” Guerrero said.
There are about 100,000 Filipino seafarers deployed in European flag vessels. It is estimated that Filipino seafarers abroad remit roughly $5.8 billion annually.
Guerrero noted that the “results of the measures that Marina instituted can’t be observed overnight.”
“It will take time for these measures to take root and be observable on the ground,” he said.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes