Lawmakers mull seafarers course probe

Lawmakers are poised to investigate the reimposition of a controversial seafarers course by the Maritime Industry Authority.

One Filipinos Worldwide Partylist Rep. Marissa Del Mar-Magsino filed on 19 September House Resolution 394 urging appropriate committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the Philippines’ compliance with the 1978 Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention as amended, including the taking of the Management Level Course.

Maritime stakeholders will also meet with Senators Raffy Tulfo, Christopher Lawrence Bong Go, Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, and Imee Marcos to push for a separate Senate inquiry into the MLC issue, according to a source.

Some industry stakeholders oppose the MLC that Marina Administrator Hernani Fabia has revived to keep the Philippines’ position in the International Maritime Organization’s Whitelist.

The IMO Whitelist includes nations that have displayed compliance and established a plan to fully comply with the STCW Convention.

In 2019, the Philippines sustained its inclusion in the list of parties compliant with the said regulation, based on the report of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee.

The country has recently undergone an independent evaluation, conducted every five years, as one of the Philippines’ obligations as a party to the STCW Convention.

“The IE is one of the mechanisms instituted by the IMO to evaluate the Member Party’s continuing compliance with the requirements of the STCW Convention,” Fabia said in an earlier interview.

“The Philippines underwent independent evaluations and submitted the required report to the (IMO) Secretary-General in February 2013 and another in May 2017. However, both reports were not considered because the former did not contain information on the steps taken by the Philippines to implement the subsequent mandatory amendments to the Convention while the latter was found to be incomplete,”€ Fabia told the Daily Tribune.

Fabia maintained that the MLC should be imposed for the Philippines’ continued inclusion in the IMO Whitelist.

‘Already compliant’

Maritime education advocate Capt. Edgardo Flores said that the maritime courses Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and BS Marine Engineering have already passed and are compliant with international standards based on the European Commission’s January 2018 assessment of compliance of the maritime education, training and certification system of the Philippines with STCW Convention under Directive 2008/106/EC2.

“European Maritime Safety Agency concluded that CMO (Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order) 20-2015 already includes knowledge, understanding, and proficiency established by the relevant tables in Chapters 2 and 3 of STCW Code for Management Level.

“How can Marina now justify MLC as a finding by IE when EMSA already accepted it in our education and that the findings in management level have already been addressed by CHEd on CMO 67 of 2017? Why are CHEd and Marina still drafting another curriculum where CMO 67 was already accepted as corrective action by EMSA? Our government intervention is much more needed now with this evidence and once for all to protect the welfare of our dear seafarers,” he said.

The MLC, a training course meant for deck and engine officers, became optional in May 2021 by virtue of Marina Advisory 2021-23 issued by then Administrator Robert Empedrad.
The MLC for deck officers takes about two months, while the MLC for engine officers requires two-and-a-half-month training and costs at least P45,000.

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