THE Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) told the Marino Party List, which represents seafarers, that 61 out of 91 maritime schools are recommended for closure due to non-compliance with the standards set by the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention.
“I am deeply disturbed that this only came to light now, when it was already known we have problems as early as 2006. The fact that these schools were able to operate after several administrations without being caught points to a problem with the regulatory agencies, something that we need to address to maintain the credibility and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers around the world,” Marino Party List Rep. Carlo Lisandro L. Gonzalez said in a statement on Thursday after the meeting earlier this week, adding that he will call for a House inquiry on the matter.
The Philippines is undergoing an audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on its STCW compliance. Failure to meet standards would put thousands of seafarer jobs at risk, as certificates of Filipino seafarers would no longer be honored by the European Union.
Under Executive Order 63, series of 2018, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Marina share responsibility for overseeing maritime schools.
“Perhaps the problem is due to the two agencies not being clear on who is responsible for what. Perhaps the reason is corruption. Perhaps the reason is incompetence. We will find out why and address the matter properly,” Marino Party-list Rep. Macnell M. Lusotan said.
“Closing two-thirds of maritime schools will severely affect our ability to produce more seafarers, affect the credibility of all alumni of Philippine maritime schools, and have a huge impact on our economy. With the entire seafarer sector at stake, the government must move and move quickly,” Mr. Gonzalez said. — Genshen L. Espedido