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Philippines govt pledges IMO STCW ‘white-list’ and EMSA compliance

Jaime Jimenez Bautista, Secretary of the Philippines Department of Transportation.jpg
Jaime Jimenez Bautista, Secretary of the Philippines Department of Transportation
The Philippines is undertaking a “barrage of corrective actions” as the government tries to ensure it stays on the IMO’s ‘white-list’ for STCW and the standards of the European Commission.

Speaking at the Crew Connect Global Conference in Manila Jaime Jimenez Bautista, Secretary of the Philippines Department of Transportation, was clear that the government was committed to rectifying the deficiencies found both in the March 2020 European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit and a recent Independent Evaluation by the IMO for International Convention on Standards of Training and Certification (STCW) so-called white-list.

“We are seriously addressing the assessment findings of the European Commission and the IMO independent evaluators with a barrage of corrective actions on various levels. We are determined at addressing those challenges that prevent us from sustaining our reputation as the maritime capital of the world,” Secretary Bautista stated.

Crew Connect Global is organised by Informa Markets and taking place in Philippines capital Manila from 22 – 24 November.

While the threat of a ban on 50,000 officers serving on EU-flagged vessels has hung over the country since 2006 over repeated non-compliance with EMSA audits, as the Secretary noted the IMO independent evaluation for STCW is more serious with global consequences for Filipino seafarers impacting the recognition of 169 countries of Philippines issued certificates.

Among the measures taken the management level course for management level officers has been reinstated as mandatory to show management level training is complaint with the STCW convention.

“We are now gathering documentary evidence to show these corrective actions that show we are now compliant. We will submit them within this month,” Secretary Bautista stated.

He added that several laws had been enacted for the expansion of the Maritime Industrial Authority (Marina), which oversees the maritime sector. Also certificates for seafarers are now issued online and there is an ongoing project to use blockchain for verification, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

Speaking about the failed EMSA audit in March 2020 the Secretary said the assessment report showed 23 grievances noted in six key areas and a total of 21 corrective actions and the Philippines was working to address these. Ongoing corrective actions include the development of second and third year training courses which are expected to be ready by June 2023.

“Other steps include issuance of new policies, standards and guidelines, updating the training course curricula, and formulating standardised course packages to address the competencies under the STCW code,” Secretary Bautista said.

The focus of Marina and the Commission of Higher Education is now on monitoring existing maritime training institutions. “We have issued a five-year moratorium on applications of schools to offer maritime training programmes to enable us to focus on checking compliance by existing schools,” he said.

The Philippines is the world’s largest supplier of crew to international shipping and the sector is of huge value to the country’s economy with projected remittances by seafarers by the end of 2022 is some $7.1bn.