Hontiveros wants to haul CHED, Marina to Senate over seafarer training issues

Hontiveros wants to haul CHED, Marina to Senate over seafarer training issues
Undated file photo shows seafarers
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MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Tuesday she wants to summon the Commission on Higher Education and the Maritime Industry Authority to a Senate hearing on reported "shortcomings" in the training of Filipino seafarers.

Hontiveros is seeking a Senate investigation to improve the training of seafarers who risk getting banned in the European Union for failure by the Philippines to comply with international training standards for nearly two decades.

"Labing-anim na taon na pala tayong binibigyan ng warning (It seems they have been warning us for 16 years). It’s high time we summon Marina and CHED to the Senate, para maaksyunan na itong mga reporma (so they can implement the necessary reforms). They need to show Congress that they are taking definite steps to resolve this issue," she said in a statement.

Migrant Workers Assistant Secretary Jerom Pampolina told a House panel last October 27 that the Philippines has not been able to pass the European Maritime Safety Agency audit since 2006, putting at risk the jobs of some 50,000 seafarers.

The Philippines has only this year to implement corrective measures to align itself with international standards, Pampolina said.

According to Hontiveros, the EMSA found that relevant Philippine authorities did not "ensure that the education and training is structured in accordance with written programs, and included the methods and media of delivery, procedures, and course material as necessary to fully achieve the prescribed standards of competence."

"The reputation, jobs and welfare of 400,000 families of Filipino mariners in the whole world are at stake here in this issue," Hontiveros said in Filipino. "It would badly hit our economy if ship owners and operators look elsewhere for seafarers to crew their vessels. It will be very hard for our country to recover."

In 2021, the Philippines topped the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s list of the world’s largest source of seafarers. An estimated 700,000 Filipino seafarers are deployed on seagoing vessels and over a fourth of the global merchant shipping crew members are Filipinos. — Xave Gregorio

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