Some brickbats were thrown at us for our commentary last week on the Philippines’ manning, training and crew certification system (‘Inside the Filipino seafarer factory‘). One reader even said we had a low regard for Filipinos. That kind of obtuse comment misses the whole point of the article – that not all’s well with the seafarer factory and a major housecleaning is in order. Now comes the European Commission (EC) poised to withdraw recognition of STCW certificates issued by the Philippines unless a number of outstanding deficiencies in the system are remedied. We feel vindicated.

The Philippine authorities were served notice on the EC plan on 5th May. The country has until 31st August this year to inform the Commission about the measures taken to address the shortcomings – issues in the functioning of the maritime administration, insufficient quality procedures, insufficient monitoring of schools, inaccurate approval and review of courses, the level and quality of training, the poor quality of inspection of maritime education and training institutes and insufficient qualifications of instructors and assessors. Those flaws in the system were identified by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) during inspections in 2006 and 2010.

It’s a matter not to be taken lightly. In November 2010 the EC stopped recognising STCW certificates issued by Georgia to its seafarers – the first time it lowered the boom on a crew-supplying country. It would be naive for anyone to think the EC will treat the Philippines with kid gloves just because the Filipinos comprise, according to one estimate, 47% of the European Union’s non-EU supply of seafarers. The Europeans mean business. ~Barista Uno