April 27th, 2012

Philippines Takes a Major Step in Resolving Maritime Problems

Manila, Philippines – A single super agency will now be overseeing the improvements and reforms in the maritime industry of the country through a recent executive order signed by President Benigno Aquino III to avoid a European Union ban on Filipino seafarers.

The said executive order is considered as a major step in the on-going investigation and assessment of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) which inspected local schools in 2010 and sent an unfavourable report to the European Commission.

The Executive Order places all affairs concerning administration of maritime training and education in the Philippines under a single agency that will be known as Marina. This agency will now be responsible in overseeing the training, education and certification activities of the Department of Labor, the Technical Education Skills Development Authority, and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), of which Marina is currently part and headed by its current Secretary Mar Roxas.

“This is a welcome and well overdue change not only for Filipino seafarers but for crewing agencies as well… One of the problems is that there are so many competing agencies. Putting it all under one umbrella is going to make the whole industry more efficient, and will go some way to resolving problems with the European Commission,” said Ian Sherwood, Chairman of the International Maritime Employers Committee.

Marina deputy administrator Nic Conti also commented about the new Executive Order and said it consolidates the fragmented maritime functions of various agencies in the Philippines and can result in a better control of the process of monitoring education training and certification that complies with the STCW convention.

Doris Magsaysay Ho, chief executive of Magsaysay Group, which operates one of the biggest manning and training agencies in Asia commented that “Everyone in shipping has been hoping for a single authority that could move faster to ensure full compliance with standards.”

Meanwhile, the DOTC Secretary acknowledges the new move from the government as a key step in making necessary changes in the local maritime industry to avoid the looming EU ban. Roxas also added that this move makes sure that the 100,000 Filipino seafarers’ onboard UE ships will continue to hold their current jobs.