MARITIME Industry Authority (Marina) Deputy Administrator lawyer Nicasio Conti said he welcomes the pending bill in both chambers of Congress creating a single maritime body to oversee the training and certification of Filipino seafarers.
In a recent forum in Quezon City, Conti echoed the position of Marina Administrator Dr. Maximo Mejia Jr. supporting Senate Bill 2043 authored by Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Bill 719 of Rep. Jesulito Manalo of Angkla party-list.
Conti said the proposed bills institutionalizes the gains of Executive Order No. 75 signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd on April 30, 2012 designating the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), through the Marina, as the sole body in the Philippines responsible for overseeing the implementation of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (ICSTCWS).
Conti cited several reasons for supporting the immediate enactment into law of these bills such as the need to align the implementation of the 1978 ICSTCWS Convention as amended with the global practice being a signatory to the Convention.
“The single maritime administration will be responsible for the education, training and certification of seafarers and ensuring their competency. It will fortify and strengthen Philippines’ position as the premier provider of competent and certificated seafarers in the international sea-borne trade, accounting for more than 25 percent of the total crew requirements on board international merchant marine vessels,” Conti added.
Conti said the proposed bills would preserve the seafarers’ contribution to the Philippine economy through its foreign exchange earnings in the amount of more than $5 Billion annually and counting.
Filipino seafarers are the preferred choice to perform management and operational functions and support services of ships of various types, categories and sizes owing to their ability to work in a cultural environment, good command of the English language, competency and reliability.
Conti said there is a compelling need to put the right system of education, training and certification into place which are originally lodged among various government agencies like Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, National Telecommunications Commission, the Professional Regulations Commission and the Department of health, among others.
Manalo rallied the support of the maritime industry as the proposed bill is set to pass its third and final reading next week.
Senator Drilon said the passage of the bill demonstrates a serious effort on the part of the Philippine government to overhaul its policies concerning the country’s seafarers and align them with international standards.
He cited reports coming from the European Union (EU) that a ban on Filipino seafarers on board EU-flag vessels is being considered because of the unsatisfactory and incomplete compliance of the country to the 1978 ICSTCWS.