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CHED confident Phl can avert EU ban on seafarers

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) expressed confidence that the Philippines can avert the imposition of a ban by the European Commission (EC) on Filipino seafarers from manning European Union (EU)-registered vessels.

CHED hopes the ban would be lifted when the Philippines undergoes an audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) next month.

In a statement issued Tuesday, CHED revealed the EMSA inspection mission scheduled this March 18 to 22 will focus on the Philippines’ administration of local maritime education and training institutions (METIs), and local maritime schools will not yet be audited.

The audit of the maritime schools, which involves the random check of some of the schools, will be on Sept. 30 and Oct. 18 this year.

In the audit to be conducted this March, EMSA will particularly look into the implementation of Executive Order No. 75 that transferred to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) the task of ensuring the country’s compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW) for seafarers.

EO 75, signed and issued by President Aquino last April 30, temporarily satisfied the EC and its Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) last year as the Philippines’ proof of its commitment to address deficiencies in the quality of maritime education being given future Filipino seamen discovered by the EMSA in 2011.

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Before the issuance of EO 75, various government agencies such as CHED, the Professional Regulation Commission, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, all insisted on having regulatory jurisdiction on the education and training of Filipino seaman, which was questioned by the EC and EU.

Seeing the issuance of EO 75 as a vital reform and proof of the Philippines’ commitment to implement reforms, the EC-DGMOVE informed the Department of Foreign Affairs last year that it will not take any final action with regard deficiencies they found in the country’s maritime education and training institutions until the “latter part of the year or early 2013.”

“The proposed inspection mission of the EMSA this March 18-22, 2013 will focus on the Philippine administration; verify on-site the progress of implementation of the announced changes, i.e. through Executive Order 75 transferring to MARINA the task of ensuring the country’s compliance with the 1978 International Convention on STCW for seafarers,” CHED said.

“CHED believes that through the various inter-agency efforts with MARINA leading the way, the Philippine maritime schools will be ready for EMSA audit come September and October,” it said.

The audit in September and October will also involve a follow-up audit of Philippine administration of maritime education focusing on the MARINA.

“On Sept. 30 and Oct.18, EMSA will conduct a thorough inspection of both Philippine administration and randomly visit several maritime schools. EMSA expects that the inspection will take up to three weeks to complete,” CHED said.

For its part, CHED said it has also pursued some measures to prepare for the March 18 audit. Its Technical Committee for Marine Transportation and Technical Committee for Marine Engineering are currently finalizing the policies, standards and guidelines (PSGs) for BS Marine Transportation and BS in Marine Engineering programs. 

“The PSGs in its final form will be subject to public hearing and is targeted to be ready prior to the March 18, 2013 EMSA visit,” CHED said.

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