Have they finally fixed up the Filipino seafarer factory? Sure, progress has been made. Not least significant was the approval last March of Republic Act 10635, which bestows on the Maritime Industry Authority the sole authority to enforce the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers). At the very least, the new law should help streamline the system. But those who think the country is now close to complying with the STCW are wrong.

With the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) due to make its fourth inspection since 2006 this October, the MARINA has yet to come up with specific assessment guidelines for the qualification of seafarers. We don’t see them in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for RA10635 or in the agency’s published circulars. This is a glaring lack. Without such guidelines, how can one determine that a seafarer has met the standard of competence set forth under the STCW Code? Let the assessor do his own thing?

We’re surprised that officials have failed to address the issue. All that they need to do is follow the example of the US Coast Guard, which has issued detailed assessment guidelines for the various shipboard positions complete with tables (see example below) The USCG guidelines, recently updated to reflect the 2010 Manila Amendments, are not mandatory. However, alternative guidelines must be submitted to the USCG National Maritime Center for approval before they can be used. The point, clearly, is to ensure State oversight over the training and certification of seafarers.

The road to STCW compliance need not be long and complicated. That it has been so in the case of the Philippines makes us feel that the designers and drivers of maritime reform don’t know what they’re doing or are partially blind. ~Barista Uno

 

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