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Ban on Phl seamen on EU-registered ships deferred

MANILA, Philippines - The European Union has put off for at least a year a ban on Filipino seafarers on board European EU-registered ships.

President Aquino recently signed Executive Order 75 that transfers the task of ensuring the country’s compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for seafarers to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

This duty was formerly with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Lawyer Nicasio Conti, MARINA acting administrator and concurrent spokesman for the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), said that the European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) has informed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that it will not take any final action on deficiencies they found in the country’s maritime education and training institutions until the “latter part of the year or early 2013.”

Until then, the DGMOVE will send another audit mission to the Philippines.

However, this next audit mission will reportedly be the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)’s final mission to the Philippines and will focus on assessing individual maritime schools and training institutions’ compliance with STCW standards.

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Conti said that with the powers given to MARINA by EO 75, which also provides the transformation of the agency as the Central Maritime Authority, they can sufficiently crack down on erring maritime education and training institutions (METIs) in the country.

The CHED and the DOLE have expressed concern over the possible blacklist of Filipino seamen on EU-registered vessels due to the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) by a Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) judge on a closure order on the “non-compliant” BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) courses of the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI).

In a joint statement issued last March, CHED and DOLE stressed that the former’s closure order issued last October on the two erring courses of PMI was a corrective measure meant to address issues raised by EMSA.

According to CHED and DOLE, the issuance of the injunction “could be looked upon as a nullification of one of the corrective actions submitted by the Philippines to DGMOVE of the European Commission.”

Patricia Licuanan, CHED chairperson, earlier bewailed the injunction granted by the Quezon City RTC, vowing that the commission will “immediately seek all legal remedies available in the higher courts” to nullify the TRO.

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