Philippine authorities are working double time to save the jobs of 49,000 Filipino seafarers aboard European ships and the $7 billion they send home each year.
This, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said, comes on the heels of a European Commission’s impending action in April or May 2023 on whether or not to recognize anymore Philippine-issued Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). Secretary Bautista said, ‘we may even have to move heaven and earth, if need be, to ensure these European standards are satisfactorily met”.
Bautista hailed President Marcos’ creation of an inter-agency committee to take up the EC’s impending action through its European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
“It’s about time this decades-old issue is resolved and put to rest”, Bautista said, noting that for 16 years now, PH has failed to fully address the findings and observations of EMSA.
The inter-agency panel includes the Departments of Transportation, Migrant Workers, Labor, Foreign Affairs and the Commission on Higher Education apart from MARINA, an attached agency of DOTr.
Bautista was quick to point out that “a lot more work needs to be done” even after MARINA had submitted the Philippine Response to the EMSA in March 2022. The 2022 Philippine Response supposedly gave details of the remedial actions MARINA put in place as well as the short and long-term measures it would carry out later.
Based on that response, the European Commission will decide whether or not to withdraw its recognition of Philippine-issued STCW certificates.
Given the Philippines’ shortcomings, Bautista pushed for a more comprehensive plan or a template to address the EMSA findings and related issues.
“So much is at stake here, not only jobs and much-needed remittances, but also our credibility and competence as a maritime regulator”, he said.
An EMSA ban, he warned, will trigger a domino effect and the rest of the world will look down on the PH seafaring industry and probably affect its dominant place in the global market.