THE PHILIPPINE government is putting on hold the introduction of new maritime training programs in the next five years to allow agencies to focus on improving existing courses through stricter evaluation and monitoring of maritime schools. 

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Monday said it is working with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and other state agencies to implement a more rigorous check on seafarer training in the country, the biggest provider of sailors in global merchant shipping.

“It will be a lot of work since we must be able to monitor all maritime schools,” CHED Chairperson Prospero E. De Vera III told a Palace briefing after meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday.  

“We have to ensure that they have the equipment and competent teachers so we can satisfy the standards of the European Commission (EC).” 

He said his agency has closed 15 maritime schools in the past year and a half for failing to meet the country’s education standards.

This comes after the EC decision to continue recognizing certificates issued by the Philippines to Filipino seafarers. 

The EC acknowledged the country’s efforts to improve the system for training and certifying Filipino seafarers, but said problems persists. 

At the same briefing, Marina Administrator Hernani N. Fabia said his agency will continue providing upskilling and re-skilling programs for Filipino seafarers.  

He said EC’s decision gave the Philippines a “clean slate” to continue working on the seafarer training programs.  

The EC said last year that almost 50,000 Filipinos employed in European vessels could lose their jobs if the Philippines did not do something about the deficiencies.  

The European Maritime Safety Agency raised issues about the countrys compliance with European Union standards after an inspection in March 2020.  

A year later, the EC warned the Philippine government it would withdraw recognition of Filipino seafarerscertificates if it did not address deficiencies in training Filipino seafarers.  

“There are observations that need to be complied with,” Mr. De Vera said.  

“CHED will work with Marina and the Department of Transportation to ensure all the identified observations will be resolved as soon as possible.” John Victor D. Ordoñez