Politics

Marina budget raised to boost seaman training

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THE EUROPEAN Union (EU) has asked the Philippines to enhance compliance with the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention, warning that failure to meet requirements could lead to seafarers being barred from working on its vessels. — MAXIME FELDER

A SENATOR who sought to quadruple the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority’s (Marina) 2023 budget to P80.69 million on Thursday said this should ensure compliance with international maritime standards.

Government failure to continue improving its standard could jeopardize the jobs of almost 600,000 Filipino seafarers, Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said in a statement. “We are still accredited but we need to work on this.”

The European Union (EU) has asked the Philippines to enhance compliance with the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention, warning that failure to meet requirements could lead to seafarers being barred from working on its vessels.

Marina and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) had failed to ensure that all training and assessment activities were administered, conducted, monitored and evaluated as required by the seafarer convention, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) said in 2020.

After the EMSA inspection, the European Commission notified the Philippines of a number of deficiencies in Filipino seafarers’ education, training and certification system.

Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said the country should quickly address deficiencies identified by the EU. “The mere fact that they have been accommodating and have not given us a definitive timeline, I know they appreciate the process we are undertaking at the moment.”

“What is important for the EU is that they see an effort to comply and it is an ongoing process,” she added.

Filipino seamen sent home $6.5 billion in remittances in 2021, she said, citing the Philippine central bank.

The senator cited data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas which revealed that Filipino sea-based workers have sent a total of $6.5 billion in remittances to their families in 2021. Remittances from January to September rose by 1.8% from a year earlier to $4.92 billion.

“Without being too presumptuous or arrogant about this, without the Filipino seafarers, I don’t think the maritime industry will be able to function properly,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said. “If we are not at the top, we are probably at the top three of those supplying seafarers.”

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s 2021 maritime transport report showed that the Philippines was the No. 1 global provider of seafarers, followed by Indonesia, China and India. Together, these countries supplied 44% of the global seafarer workforce.

The Philippines was the largest source of seafarers with about 700,000 of them deployed to domestic and foreign-flagged vessels. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan