THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Sunday the government is “working double time to save the jobs of 49,000 Filipino seafarers aboard European ships and the $7 billion they send home each year,” as it awaits the European Commission’s (EC) “impending action” on its 16-year issues with international training standards.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the EC will determine in April or May whether or not to recognize the Philippine-issued Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).
“We may even have to move heaven and earth, if need be, to ensure these European standards are satisfactorily met,” Bautista said. “It’s about time this decades-old issue is resolved and put to rest.”
An interagency committee was formed to take up the EC’s impending action through the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). Aside from the DOTr, the panel includes the Departments of Migrant Workers, Labor, Foreign Affairs, the Commission on Higher Education and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
“A lot more work needs to be done” even after Marina had submitted the Philippine Response to the EMSA in March 2022, Bautista said.
The 2022 Philippine response supposedly gave details of the remedial actions Marina put in place as well as the short and long-term measures it would carry out later.
Bautista said given the Philippines’ shortcomings, the agency pushed for a “more comprehensive plan or a template to address the EMSA findings and related issues.”
“So much is at stake here, not only jobs and much-needed remittances, but also our credibility and competence as a maritime regulator”, he said.
An EMSA ban, he warned, will trigger a “domino effect and the rest of the world will look down on the Philippine seafaring industry and probably affect its dominant place in the global market.”