Kinks in seamen’s program ironed out | Inquirer Business

Kinks in seamen’s program ironed out

EO reorganizes training of Filipino seafarers

MANILA, Philippines—The Aquino administration has reorganized the regulatory framework for the training of seafarers in the country as part of an effort to address the fragmentation of rules that have led international bodies to threaten to ban Filipino workers aboard their ships.

Executive Order No. 75 designates the Department of Transportation and Communications, through the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), as the sole agency responsible for the implementation of the 1978 international rules on standards of training, certification and watch-keeping (STCW) for seafarers.

The order, signed by Executive Secretary Paquito S. Ochoa on April 30, deals with the concerns raised by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the quality of seafarer training in the country. EMSA earlier said failure to address these issues would lead to a ban on Philippine-trained workers on registered ships of the European Union (EU).


“The recent audit findings and observations of the EMSA have highlighted the need to rationalize the regulatory, authority and operating structure of Flag State Administration,” said the order, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.


The country now has 300,000 seafarers working on various ships around the world. About 80,000 of these workers are on board EU vessels. Existing seafarers will not be affected by the EMSA ban, but new graduates may no longer be allowed on EU ships.

When the Marina was created through an executive order in 1988, it was originally the sole agency tasked with implementing the international STCW standards in the country.

In 2000, however, the agency was stripped of these powers, which were in turn distributed to 11 different agencies, contributing “to the fragmentation of responsibilities for the effective and efficient implementation of the STCW Convention.”

The order said the changes worked well until 2010, when amendments to the 1978 STCW convention was enacted following a conference held in Manila. These new rules, known as the “Manila Amendments,” took effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

The executive order said that there was “an urgent need for the Philippines to institutionalize a single maritime administration to lead and supervise the comprehensive review and amendment, if necessary, of existing executive and legislative regimes … before (the Manila Amendments) full implementation by 2017.”

Under the order, all STCW-related functions would be transferred back to the Marina. These powers include the administration and effective implementation of the STCW Convention, the issuance of certificates of competency for seafarers, and the accreditation of maritime training centers. It is also meant to ensure that the qualifications and experience of instructors and assessors are pursuant to the STCW Convention.

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TAGS: Education, executive order, Philippines, seamen, training

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