(Quality of local education system found wanting)
The country is facing a possible ban by the European Union on the hiring of Filipino seafarers for EU-flagged vessels due to doubts over the quality of local graduates, maritime manning agencies said.
The European Commission earlier this year gave the Philippines until the end of August to address several concerns, including the insufficient monitoring of schools and the low quality of training for local graduates.
“The consolidation of completed corrective actions… and the preparation of other corrective measures with prospective application, together with the timetable for implementation, is in full swing,” Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte said in a letter to the Joint Manning Group (JMG) late last May.
JMG, in a letter last month, notified DoLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz about an announcement by the European Commission to revoke its accreditation of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificates issued by local schools.
SCTWs are required before seafarers are allowed to work on international vessels.
Other “outstanding deficiencies” in the country were the inaccurate approval and review of courses, insufficient qualification of instructors and assessors and insufficient quality procedures.
The findings were made after two separate visits to the Philippines—one in 2006 and another last year—by the European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa), the EU’s maritime rules enforcement arm.
“Given the nature of the findings, the European Commission is currently not in a position to consider that the Philippines complies with the STCW requirements,” said the JMG letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.
JMG is the umbrella organization for maritime manning companies in the Philippines.
“If ever [local STCWs are unrecognized], European ships will refrain from getting Filipinos in their crew. Hopefully it can be addressed soon,” JMG member Filipino Association of Mariner’s Employment (FAME) said.
The Philippines is currently one of the biggest suppliers of seafarers in the world. FAME said there are roughly around 300,000 Filipino seafarers working around the world today, and that the ships from Europe were a “major market.”
FAME said any decision by Emsa would not have a retroactive effect, which means only future hires will be banned. Filipinos already working on EU ships will be allowed to keep their jobs.
JMG said the government, as well as training and educational institutions, had failed to take action to address deficiencies to resolve these issues, which have been pending for several years.
“This is a very serious matter because it jeopardizes jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Filipinos who work for the European cruise companies,” JMG chairman Eduardo Manese said.