MANILA (PNA) -– Filipino sailors can continue working aboard European vessels after the European Union gave the Philippines more time to comply with international seafaring standards and training.
Manila’s failure to meet regulatory standards set by the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers would ban Filipino sailors from working in EU shipping companies.
The EU’s decision came after an appeal from the Department of Foreign Affairs to grant the Philippines additional time to allow the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to implement structural and policy changes in Philippine maritime schools and training centers.
On April 23, the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) and the Committee on Safe Seas (COSS) and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships met at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium where they agreed to send another audit team to the Philippines to look into the measures which the Philippine maritime authorities will be implementing to ensure compliance with STCW standards.
The EU was supposed to render its decision on the Philippines on the said date, but Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario instructed all Philippine ambassadors posted in EU countries to launch a sustained and broad-based diplomatic offensive to stave off European withdrawal of recognition of Philippine STCW compliance certificates issued to Filipino seafarers.
A team from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is scheduled to arrive after the start of the new school year in September or October to monitor the delivery of maritime education by the country’s higher education and training institutions.
EMSA has been sending audit teams to the Philippines since 2006 to ensure that the 82,000 Filipino seafarers working on board EU-flagged vessels are qualified and competent.
The last EMSA audit took place in October 2013 and its report was submitted to DGMOVE early this year.
The DFA said it will provide support to MARINA as it rectifies deficiencies in the country’s maritime education system before the next EMSA audit. (PNA)