DMW to work with local, international partners for seafarers’ programs

DMW to work with local, international partners for seafarers� programs
In this August 21, 2022 photo from the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy Facebook page, Commodore Joel Abutal — academy superintendent — visits the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Maryland.
PMMA Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Migrant Workers said it is already working on collaborating with agencies here and overseas to improve programs for seafarers, after jobs of at least 50,000 seafarers were put at risk for the Philippines’ failure to comply with standards of the European Union.

In a virtual press conference on Monday, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said the department is planning to convene a workshop with international partners on June 25 to 26. This is an addition to the monthly meetings the agency already holds with its other partners.

“We are inviting our experts to come and join us for a forward-looking conference, a road mapping conference on actions to take,” Ople said, adding that the department is also now looking to consider the future of the international shipping industry. 

Meanwhile, the department will also meet with the Department of Transportation, the Maritime Industry Authority and the Commission on Higher Education, among others, to kickstart the country’s own plans to improve seafarer education and skills training programs “so everything can be synchronized.” 

Issues remain

This all comes after the European Commission said it will still recognize seafarer certificates issued by the Philippines to masters and officers. At least 50,000 seafarers were at risk of losing their jobs prior to the decision. 

The Philippines was cited for grievances it had to address from way back 2006, which were audited by the European Maritime Safety Agency. 

International partners on Monday clarified that it is not an issue of whether the seafarers the country produces were qualified, instead, the Philippines did not have a consistent system of education and training for its workers in the maritime sector. The country is the top source of the world’s seafarers. 

While the Philippines has already been cleared, it still has six issues it still needs to address, according to the EMSA. This includes the monitoring, supervision, and evaluation of training and assessment, as well as the country’s program and course design and approval. 

Other programs

Aside from this, the DMW said it will also be partnering with its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Association, for a financial literacy program for seafarers and it is also working on a new set of rules and regulations solely for overseas Filipino workers in the sea-based sector. 

“The [previous] formulation of rules was more geared towards the land-based sector and given its size, it has been influencing policy related to the sea-based sector,” Ople said. 

“We decided that it is time that the sea-based sector, with the help of the stakeholders and also with advice coming from our international experts, to come up with our own set of rules and policy framework that would guide us easier and for the years to come.”

Ople, in her first speech as the migrant workers secretary, said the new rules would be a priority under her leadership to help OFWs and recruitment agencies better understand government guidelines.  — Kaycee Valmonte

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