PHILSTAR

THE Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) must properly implement international training standards in compliance with European Union (EU) requirements in order to preserve about 30,000 seafarers’ jobs, a Senator said.

The EU is insisting that training regimes meet the norms of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

“If we cannot comply or if we receive a negative assessment, MARINA should answer to the thousands of our seafarers who are at risk of losing their jobs. We hope it does not come to that,” Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said in a statement.

The EU has warned Marina that failure to meet the standard before a set deadline will result in Filipino marine officers being barred from working on EU-flagged vessels. The bloc has been citing deficiencies in the Philippines’ implementation of the convention since 2006, including one serious issues in the use of simulators and on-board training.

Mr. Villanueva cited the European Maritime Safety Agency Outlook for 2020, which indicated that the Philippines leads non-EU countries in number of officers working on EU-flagged vessels, with a total of 30,615.

According to MARINA data, about 50,000 Filipinos work on EU-flagged ships overall, most of them registered in Malta, Greece, Norway, and Germany.

“Our seafarers greatly contribute to our economy, especially during a pandemic. Let’s save this sector from drowning. Let’s keep our Filipino seafarers world-class by following international standards,” Mr. Villanueva said.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, cash remittances from all sea-based overseas Filipino workers in 2021 totaled $6.545 billion or about P335.42 billion.

Mr. Villanueva is also pushing for the passage of a bill that requires both the MARINA and the Commission on Higher Education to keep standards in maritime education, training, and certification in line with the STCW.

Senate Bill 2369 or the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers is currently in the second reading stage in the Senate. Mr. Villanueva said he plans to continue with deliberations when the session resumes on May 23. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan