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Philippine government says it is ‘ready’ for this week’s EMSA audit

Philippine government says it is ‘ready’ for this week’s EMSA audit
Manila: With a single entity now in charge of overseeing the implentation of STCW in the Philippines Nicasio Conti of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), says they “are ready” for this week’s STCW audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

The Philippines faces the first of two crucial EMSA audits this week on its implementation and issuance of STCW certification, with a second audit in October this year. A failure by the Philippines to comply with the findings of EMSA audits in 2006 and 2010 led to a threat to ban Filipino seafarers from working on European Union-flagged vessels.

An issue central to failing the EMSA audit was the lack of a central body controlling the certification of seafarers and the monitoring of the quality of training the Philippines 94 maritime schools and academies.

With measures that have been taken to centralise authority under Marina following Executive Order 75 by the Philippines President Benigno Aquino III last year, Marina’s officer-in-charge, Conti, appeared hopeful the Philippines would make it through the first audit which takes place from 16 – 19 April.

“We are ready for this audit,” he told Seatrade Global on the sidelines of the TSM Group annual conference in Manila on Monday. “We have been able to get the support of everyone in the industry and other agencies.” He added that experts from the IMO and Europe who helped the Philippines in the process said if all the new measures had been implemented before 2010 they would have passed the EMSA audit that year.

“We have the power under Executive Order 75 to look into all the processes of the agencies and ensure they comply,” he told the conference.

As it stand now five different regulatory and certification bodies now come under the purview of Marina for seafarer certification. However, moves to bring all the power under Marina have so far achieved mixed results and for example legislation is still required for Marina to be able to issue certificates currently issued by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).

With the help of international assistance the Philippines authorities have trained 34 inspectors to monitor the country’s maritime schools and academies. Previously the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) outsourced the inspection process to the private sector resulting in conflicts of interest as often the people hired to do the monitoring were related to the maritime schools themselves.

Failure to meet the demands of the EMSA audit would have major repercussions for both the Philippines crewing industry and the global shipping industry. “It is very important that the Philippines gets STCW compliance under control,” said Carsten Brix Ostenfeldt, ceo of Thome Shipmanagement.

Conti noted that should the country fail the EMSA audit it could result in the “loss of employment opportunities” for 80,000 seafarers, who remit some $1.2bn in wages back the Philippines annually.

 

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