Government plans to improve shipboard training to address EU security agency grievances

The Marcos administration is considering an executive order to address the lack of onboard training of Filipino sailors and other “grievances” from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), government officials said Thursday.

Higher Education Commission (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera, Jr., Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Executive Director Samuel Batalla, and Transportation Department attorney Julius Yano gave this assurance during the panel hearing on Foreign Workers’ Affairs in the House.

Arlene Brosas, Deputy House Minority Leader of the Gabriela Party List, asked about the effects of EMSA grievances on Filipino sailors aboard EU-flagged vessels.

“We (CHED and Marina) are not done with curriculum reform yet, but I think our compliance with EMSA’s observations will solve the problem. Once we comply, we will deal with the bigger issue which is the issue of onboard training,” said De Vera.

(We really need to focus on our compliance issue with EMSA observation first.)

“Because how can you train good sailors if you can’t comply with the elements of shipboard training?” If you cannot comply with the required results, you cannot produce good seafarers qualified for international practice,” he added.

De Vera said President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. was already aware of this.

“I told the President that we need to take shipboard training seriously, because shipboard training has a direct impact on the type of sailors we produce. Think of it this way: if you open a school of medicine or a nursing school without a proper training hospital, you will not produce good doctors and nurses,” he said.

“We need to pay more attention to this, and a draft decree is being prepared to address onboard training as there are observations that there are too many students but too few ships, and that is part of the reform of a sailor’s preparation programs,” he added.

Yano, for his part, said the government is already taking many steps to address EMSA’s grievances.

Based on the MARINA records, the Philippines instituted 19 steps to respond to EMSA findings, including:

  • revised policies, standards and guidelines and rules and regulations for the assessment and inspections of the Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering (BSMarE)
  • development of a standardized course package for BSMT / BSMarE programs (2nd year and 3rd year)
  • revision of quality procedures and forms based on the Marina circular on policies, standards and guidelines on the accreditation of maritime training institutions and assessment centers
  • update of quality standards
  • System (QSS)
  • automation of load capacity calculation, among others.

“We did not fail the EMSA audit, although there have been previous audits where EMSA has found grievances. Those grievances are acknowledged and, in fact, they are being addressed,” said Yano said.

“We are working to correct these grievances. There has been no adverse effect on our seafarers as they are still employed on board and our STCW (Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) certification is still recognized by European flag vessels,” he said. added.

Batalla, for his part, said MARINA and CHED had already issued revised policies to respond to EMSA’s findings and submitted them to the European Commission, including strict oversight of maritime schools.

“There is joint CHED-MARINA monitoring of maritime schools and this is ongoing, they must comply [with the STCW] and if they don’t, we will recommend sanctions or worse, the closure of the programs,” Batalla stressed.—AOL, GMA Integrated News