The article from Fairplay. 6 February 2017
Authorities in the Philippines are bracing themselves for another visit by European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) inspectors charged with assessing whether the country’s training and certification system meets the requirements of IMO’s Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention and Code.
EMSA’s findings in this inspection will be taken into account by the European Commission in deciding on the recognition, via the EU Committee for Safe Seas (COSS).
The EMSA confirmed to Fairplay that the visit was scheduled for the middle of March.
This will be the fifth such inspection in 11 years, with the previous one taking place in 2014.
The agency told Fairplay, “While improvements were noticed in the Filipino system”, during these inspections “certain important findings remained unaddressed”.
The European Commission has, nevertheless, so far continued to accept Philippine certificates. However, the threat of approval being withdrawn, and Filipino officers no longer being able to sail on EU-flagged ships, remains a real one.
The EMSA noted that “following the 2014 inspection, COSS agreed to give more time to the Philippines to fully implement the STCW convention. This allocation of extra time was made on condition that the Filipino authorities provide the European Commission with regular updates on the corrective actions taken. These updates were received and analysed by the commission and EMSA”.
In a blog, veteran Philippine maritime industry specialist and former shipping journalist Barista Uno said the central problem has been the perceived lack of state oversight of maritime schools. Uno argues that the EMSA team should determine whether there are now clear-cut national guidelines for the proper vetting of maritime academies.
He said they should ask if the two agencies overseeing shipping and maritime education, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Commission on Higher Education, have become less dependent on the private sector for school inspections. A third question, he said, should be whether the large number of colleges has been reduced.
In July last year, Marcial QC Amaro III took over as Marina administrator. In December the Manila Bulletin reported that Marina was doing its best to achieve STCW compliance. At that time Amaro said foreign maritime administrations had responded favourably to Marina’s efforts in this regard.