Ople denies Marcos excluded Marina from task
MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered government agencies to come up with a "joint implementation plan" to ensure the job security of Filipino seafarers in European vessels, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople on Thursday.
The European Union early this year flagged the Philippines for deficiencies in local seafaring training and education which it had identified for 16 years. It threatened to ban Filipino marine officers on EU vessels by refusing to recognize Philippine-issued Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch-keeping (STCW) certificates.
“The directive of the President was for various agencies led by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to come up with a joint implementation plan to address the concerns raised by the European Maritime Safety Agency, or EMSA,” Ople said in a statement.
She said the Department of Migrant Workers and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), an attached DOTr agency, were "included in that directive."
A media report on Thursday quoted Ople as having said that Marcos supposedly removed Marina from the task of overseeing maritime training and accreditation.
But she clarified, “The President never ordered MARINA to be removed as an implementing agency nor did I ever say this in any interview.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva in March said the Philippines leads non-EU countries with the most seafaring officers working in EU vessels, with a total of 30,615, based on the EMSA Outlook for 2020.
It's possible for Filipino seafarers to lose their jobs if recognition of Philippine-issued STCW certificates is removed, he said.
Filipino seafarers contribute around $6 billion to the Philippine economy, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said last month.
He said he was working with EU ambassadors so that seafarers could keep their jobs.
In an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo Friday, Bautista denied reports that the Philippines had failed EMSA's evaluation.
"Hindi po tayo bumagsak sa evaluation ng European Maritime Safety Agency," he said.
(We did not fail the evaluation of the European Maritime Safety Agency.)
Bautista said EMSA made an assessment and gave its findings and observations, including improvements to the country's training curriculum.
He said MARINA was already working to implement needed reforms for the Philippines' maritime education.
In fact, he said, MARINA in March 2022 responded to EMSA's findings and evaluation and submitted "action plans."
Now, they are awaiting feedback from EMSA.
"Ang audit na ginawa nila ay pag-uusapan sa susunod na EMSA meeting. Dapat po ngayong November meron pong meeting ang EMSA, pero hindi po tayo kasama sa kanilanga agenda. So we're expecting na mare-review po nila 'yung ating mga sagot and pag-uusapan 'yan sa May of 2023.
(Their audit will be discussed in the next EMSA meeting. It should have been conducted this November in an EMSA meeting but we're excluded from their agenda. So we're expecting they will review our answers and discuss them in May of 2023.)