Officials clash over reimposition of MLC

The head of the Maritime Industry Authority has shrugged off opposition to the reimposition of the Management Level Course for Filipino seafarers aspiring to become officers.

“If others protest about it, then let them,” Marina Administrator Atty. Hernani Fabia recently told a meeting with stakeholders.

Fabia confirmed the reimposition of the MLC during the joint maritime committee meeting with members of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nordic Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and the Philippines-Norway Business Council last 26 August.

“It was a finding by the independent evaluator that there is no evidence of formal education and training for management level courses. I think I have to revive the MLC to comply with that,” he said.
“I think they have to cooperate with us in disseminating this (MLC) because this is very important,” Fabia added.

According to the Marina chief, it allows the Philippines to maintain its inclusion in the “Whitelist” of the International Maritime Organization. The list includes countries compliant with the revised 1978 Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention.


The former chief of the Marina-STCW office has hit the reimplementation of the MLC saying the training was halted during his term because it should remain in the confines of maritime education.

“The MLC is not even mentioned in the STCW. It is clear in the EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) findings in June 2014 that the MLC must be included in BS (Bachelor of Science) Marine Transportation and BS Marine Engineering, not as training. There’s redundancy there,” retired Philippine Navy vice admiral Rene V. Medina said during the Usapang OFW: Maritime Corner of the Daily Tribune on Wednesday.

Medina said taking the six-month MLC will cost a seafarer P40,000, including the accomplishment of various requirements and documents.

“If the MLC will be reimplemented, then someone will benefit from that,” Medina said without elaborating.

During his term as the chief of the STCW, Medina recommended making the MLC an optional training course for deck and engine officers to then Marina Administrator Robert Empedrad.

Empedrad issued Marina Advisory 2021-23 that says the MLC is “among those not included in the Mandatory Training Courses (under the STCW Convention).”

‘I have to revive the MLC.’

The MLC “shall only be required from seafarers who failed three times in their examination or assessment” on a particular function, according to the advisory.

“Admittedly, some training centers were irked by the advisory I released because they will stop getting payments from seafarers availing of the MLC training,” according to Medina.

Questionable advisory

For his part, maritime education advocate Capt. Edgardo Flores echoed Medina’s position.

“It’s very clear in the (EMSA) findings that the problem is in our dedication that we have to address.”

“In EMSA’s report of 2014 and even earlier, they commented that management level education must be included in our BSMT and BSMarE programs and the findings were addressed to the Commission on Higher Education in education, not as training. If MLC will be reimposed as education and training, what is the purpose? Is it going to be a retroactive education since senior officers already graduated with their BS education? Or a redundant education for financial gain?” Flores said.

Fabia, however, questioned how an existing Marina memorandum circular about the MLC was rescinded by an advisory, referring to Empedrad’s advisory in 2021.

“Actually, there is no such thing as MLC. They called it to address the training as provided in the regulation. The previous (Marina) administrator just turned it into a Management Level Course, but it’s a training course for management level officers,” Fabia explained.

Fabia further denied recommendations to include MLC in maritime education, as the Ched already revised the maritime courses several times.

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