Thousands of Pinoy seafarers could lose jobs by October 2018, warns OFW solon

Thousands of Filipino seafarers are in danger of losing their jobs by October 2018 if the Philippines gets blacklisted by the European Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA) for not complying the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), a lawmaker warned.

ACTS OFW party-list Representative John Bertiz III made the disclosure on Thursday after his office received complaints from seafarers’ groups and organizations.

“Marami nang dumudulog sa ating opisina na mga seafarers at organizations na sila ay nangangamba na pagdating ng October 2018 ay maaari daw tayong ma-disaccredit or ma-blacklist doon sa European Maritime Safety Authority,” Bertiz said in a media forum in Quezon City.

“I think as far as 2003 ay we were already being requested na mag-comply sa STCW which is ito yung mga standards [ng] training and certification ng ating mga marino,” he added.

Bertiz was joined by representatives from seafarers’ groups who suggested courses of action to address the effects of the impending blacklisting.

Bienvenido Lorque, chief engineer of the Association of Marine Officers in Rating, enumerated the standards that the Philippines was found to have not been complying.

“Since 2006 to March 2017, palagi na inuulit-ulit ng EMSA na yung implementation ng quality management system is not correct,” he said.

The country’s monitoring of maritime schools is likewise improper, Lorque added.

“Paano mo mamo-monitor na maganda ang eskwelahan kasi yung officer na hired ng MARINA [Maritime Industry Authority] sa eskwelahan, kapag binigyan mo ng salapi, pasado na yung eskwelahan kahit na non-compliant siya doon sa probinsya ng STCW?” he said.

In order to address this issue, Lorque suggested that MARINA hire senior officers that could properly monitor maritime schools.

“The MARINA has to adopt policies na ang lahat ng senior officers likewise masters, chief mates ay magboluntaryo na tumulong sa MARINA, dapat tanggapin. Kaysa mag-hire sila nang casual, babayaran nila pero wala namang alam,” he added.

Bertiz noted that the government should come up with contingency plans in case the blacklisting proceeds.

The government, he said, should be ready to offer employment to seafarers who might lose their jobs.

“Yung mga high-level officers, tulad ng kapitan, medyo scarce yan lalo na sa Europe. Baka yan makakuha pa ng trabaho,” he said.

“Paano naman yung mga second-class or ibang much lower na mga marino na hindi na i-accept or wala nang demand para sa kanila? Medyo malaki rin ang bilang ng mawawalan ng trabaho,” he added.

Bertiz said there are about 80,000 Filipino seafarers on board European flag carriers.

Captain Edwin Itable, president of the Masters and Mates Association of the Philippines, meanwhile urged MARINA to let them participate in their technical working group to propose courses of actions to address the issue with EMSA.

“May ipinasok kaming mga proposal tungkol sa pagsagot sa EMSA, pero hindi namin nakita at hindi rin inilabas sa amin,” he said.

“Kami’y nananawagan sa MARINA na para maiwasan yung maraming maganap by October 30, 2018,” he added.

Limit enrollees in maritime schools

Itable also urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to limit the number of enrollees in maritime schools and improve the quality of education to prevent a surplus of maritime graduates who are not able to board a ship.

He said that more than 100,000 graduates of maritime schools did not get their licenses because they failed to accomplish the required ship-board training.

Many maritime students do not get to have ship-board training because of the lack of ships that schools could use for this purpose, Itable said.

“Ang sinasabi naman ng mga eskwelahan, kasi hindi naman kami tinutulungan ng gobyerno dahil wala naman silang barko. Yun ang nagiging problema, pagkarami-rami ng nagtatapos ng education, hindi makapag-ship-board training so hindi sila makakuha ng lisensya,” he said.

“Ako’y nananawagan sa CHED na sa halip na sila’y nagdadagdag ng eskwelahan, sana ay magbawas sila upang macontrol natin yung dami ng tao na pagtatapusin kundi yung quality ng mga magsisipagtapos na dadaan sa ship-board training,” he added. — BM, GMA News

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