Congress supports the government’s commitment to correct EMSA findings

The Philippine Congress is sending clear signals to the European Commission (EC) that the government will fulfill its obligations by providing the necessary financial support to correct the deficiencies identified in the maritime education, training and certification system for Filipino seafarers.

In a statement issued by Senator Grace Poe on November 17, 2022, she commended the European Commission for giving the Philippines time to work on these flaws in the European Commission Assessment Report (ECAR) during the Senate’s public deliberations on the ministry’s budget. Transportation (DOTr) including Maritime Industry Authority (Marina). ECAR is based on the findings of a recent audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

“The mere fact that they (the European Union) got caught up and didn’t give us a specific timeline, I know they appreciate the process we’re in at the moment,” Bo said in her statement.

To underscore the government’s unwavering commitment to ordering its compliance with the STCW agreement, the Senate has increased the Marina’s appropriation for “monitoring and enforcing maritime laws and regulations” by four times its proposed budget for next year.

The Senate on Bo’s recommendation added 56.7 million pesos more or from 20,947,000 pesos based on the proposed national spending program for 2023 to 80,693,000 pesos to ensure the country’s compliance with international maritime standards.

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At present, the EU has not excluded Filipino seamen from their shipping lanes and the accreditation of the Philippines has not been revoked. However, the EU has identified areas in which the country will need to take corrective action such as education, training and certification, among others.

“We are still accredited but we need to work on this because if this is not the case, the employment of 49,461 Philippine Navy officers will be in jeopardy and the employment of nearly 600,000 certified Filipino seamen, including officers, will also be affected,” Bo said.

Bo said the EU is giving the country the opportunity to address its shortcomings.

“What’s important for the EU is that they see an attempt to comply, and it’s an ongoing process,” Bo said.

According to data from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, OFWs sent a total of $6.5 billion in remittances to their families in the country in 2021. From January to September this year, their remittances amounted to $4.92 billion, an increase of 1.8%. of the $4.8 billion they sent home in the same period in 2021.

Amidst the problem of accreditation and training of Filipino seamen, the earnings they sent home continued to increase.

Without being presumptuous or arrogant about this, without Filipino seamen, I do not think the maritime industry would be able to function properly. If we weren’t at the top, we might be in the top three among those supplying sailors,” Bo said.

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