• Marina optimistic amid looming EMSA sanctions

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    MARITIME Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Maximo Mejia is still keeping his fingers crossed over the decision of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) that gave a thumbs down rating to the Philippines, for failing to meet the qualifications set by European and international maritime safety standards.

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    Among the possible sanctions that may be imposed on the Philippines is a ban on the hiring of Filipino seamen.

    Close to 100,000 out of the 400,000 Filipino seamen may be affected by the audit.

    According to a report from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the EMSA has already submitted its audit report to the European Commission.

    In a text message sent to media, Mejia admitted that the Philippines had encountered problems with the EMSA report.

    But he stated that there had been no actions taken yet and that there is still time to remedy the situation.

    “The European Commission will not come out with a draft decision until later next month. While they acknowledge the big strides we have taken, they have not given any indication which way they will decide. They have made it clear that it can be a yes or a no [on ban of Filipino seafarers],” Mejia said.

    “Until then, we will continue with our reforms and keep the European Commission informed of these reform measures. We must remain hopeful because there is still hope. And the Aquino government will keep backing all our efforts to get us closer to our goal,” Mejia added in his text message.

    According to the report, both Marina and the Commission on Higher Education failed to demonstrate the monitoring activities that they earlier suggested and cited.

    EMSA also cited what it called “lack of uniformity” in the grading of students in maritime schools monitored by CHED.

    Mejia remained optimistic that the European Commission will take into account the reforms of the Aquino Government, including the recently signed Maritime law.

    The report said Marina and CHED have not fully ensured the training and independence of the evaluators needed to implement the monitoring plans.

    In a 2006 inspection, CHED was found to have failed in systematically monitoring maritime schools’ compliance with relevant regulations.

    In a follow-up inspection in 2012, EMSA said CHED advisors did not apply defined criterions in verifying the implementation of its programs.

    Marina, for its part, failed to demonstrate that the national standard for management level courses was fully consistent with the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW).

    Other EMSA findings were: not all agencies involved in training, education and certification of seafarers are aligned with the National Quality Standards System (NQSS); there is a conflict of interest with respect to assessors and evaluators with the maritime schools; and the plan for monitoring maritime schools is unworkable.

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