Maritime sector banks on EO to boost standards
Friday, 18 May 2012 | 11:00
The country's maritime sector is hopeful that Malacanang's remedy to loopholes in the industry's regulatory
framework would result in safer seas and better training for local seafarers.
In an interview last weekend, industry veteran Atty. Iris Baguilat expressed optimism over Executive Order No. 75, designating the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) as the lead agency for the implementation of standards of training, certification, and watch-keeping (STCW) for seafarers.
Baguilat currently chairs the congressional technical working group that is helping form a new Maritime Code for the country.
"Hopefully, it is a step in the right direction toward a more responsive, efficient and better-coordinated maritime administration," she said.
Her statements come as the country waits for the results of the European Maritime Safety Administration's (EMSA) recent audit of the Philippines. A negative recommendation may lead to a decision by the European Commission (EC) to ban Philippine-trained seafarers from European Union
Last year, EMSA noted several deficiencies in the country's maritime regulatory framework, focusing mainly on the quality of training of Filipino seafarers. The agency noted a rise in substandard training schools that churn out poorly trained graduates.
EMSA gave the Philippines a year to address the STCW deficiencies. Failure to comply with its prescribed remedies could lead to a ban on Filipino seafarers, EMSA earlier warned.
Designating the Marina as the sole agency for the administration of international STCW standards is seen addressing problems in the regulatory structure for seafarer training, often described as "fragmented."
The concerns raised by EMSA are among the problem areas that the new Maritime Code-being pushed by Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat, a member of the House Transportation Committee in Congress-tries to address.
Sought for comment, the lawmaker said the committee was working hard to make sure that the Maritime Code would be passed before Congress goes on break for the campaign season ahead of next year's polls.
Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) Assistant Commissioner Aristogerson Gesmundo said the government expects the EC to make its decision in two months.
But he said that regardless of what the EMSA says, Filipino seafarers were still among the best in the world.
"It's unfair to say that Filipino seafarer training is not good. There's a reason we are the biggest supplier of maritime labor in the world. It's because we are better than the rest of the world," he said in an interview.
He noted that of the 95 training schools in the country, the PRC found that only three were not compliant with baseline international standards.
Source: Business Inquirer
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