The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which provides technical expertise and operational assistance to improve global maritime safety, pollution preparedness and response, and maritime security, says it is “unlikely” to ban Filipino seafarers, even if the Philippines does not object to an assessment conducted in the country last year.
According to a Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) source, the Philippines is currently preparing documents to be presented to EMSA auditors in Brussels, Belgium in February 2022 to demonstrate that the Philippines is correcting the deficiencies and shortcomings identified by EMSA assessors during their audit from February 24 to March 12, 2020.
“The local delegation, led by Marina officials, will go to Brussels, Belgium this February to submit our last evidence of compliance. EMSA had received the initial report of compliance. This would be our final submission, explaining how we rectify our shortcomings,” the source noted.
As per source, EMSA assessors will also make a last visit to the country by the end of this year.
“Then a decision will be made after if the Philippines has already passed in the EMSA assessment. But the ban is unlikely to happen,” the source stressed.
From a staggering 216 faults discovered by EMSA during its initial audit in 2006, deficiencies were reduced to 42 on the March 2017 EMSA visit and further slipped to 13 areas of concern, necessitating the authorities to provide three different reports detailing how these had been resolved.
EMSA assessors discovered discrepancies in regulations implemented by Maritime Higher Education and Institutions (MHEI), Maritime Training Institutions, and Assessment Centers, as well as new regulations and relevant activities conducted by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Marina regarding the design and approval of programs and courses.
In a separate interview, seasoned ship captain Edgardo Flores stated that Marina must do well in its report to EMSA or else the country’s maritime industry will suffer.
“My point of view is yes we might find ourselves in a very critical situation if deficiencies will not be rightfully addressed. As of now, Marina and CHEd are crafting their report that would rectify nine remaining findings. I hope they can do it before the 10 March 2022 deadline,” he said.
Flores also disclosed that European countries currently have a surplus of seafarer officers, which is why it is quite concerning to learn that they may provide vessels with European seafarer officials rather than Filipinos.
“Most Eastern bloc in Europe has an oversupply of officers. It’s not a good sign as they can easily take our seafarers out of the picture. Ratings (lowest post), we will not have a problem, yet, there are other countries that are emerging to be seafaring nations,” Flores noted.
Meanwhile, the Angkla partylist, which represents seafarers, has asked the Duterte administration to respond to the coming ban on Filipino seafarers on European flagged ships, as the country awaits the implementation of the latest restrictions.
“We ask the Duterte administration to consider this as an urgent concern. We cannot afford to lose jobs for about 1.5 million Filipino seafarers abroad. We cannot afford to lose billions of dollars of remittances especially now that we need funds in handling the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Angkla’s former representative Jesulito Manalo.
Manalo emphasized that EMSA recognition is crucial not just for Filipino seafarers in Europe, but also for all ships that sail through Europe on their way to major business.
He also stated that Filipino seafarers can sail onboard foreign-flag vessels thanks to the Marina’s Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping Certificate of Competency.
EU unlikely to ban Filipino seafarers|Tribune