Sunday, April 6, 2014
THERE are more than 400,000 Filipino seafarers deployed overseas, roughly 35-40 percent of the world’s mariners, and 60,000 more working in domestic routes.
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya made the disclosure in his speech during the commencement exercise of more than 1,000 graduates of marines courses at the University of Cebu-Maritime Education Training Center (UC-METC) last April 3.
Abaya praised UC-METC, which he said is known for excellence in academic training.
He said UC-METC was named Region 7’s “Maritime Training Center of the Year” by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
“From January to November 2013 alone, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remitted US$4.765 billion to the Philippines, which is equivalent to a whopping P213 billion infused into our local economy,” he said.
He said the government appreciates their contribution to the national economy.
On the part of DOTC, Abaya said one of their achievements that directly affect the seafarers is the passage of Republic Act 10635, which empowers Marina to be the single maritime administration among all government agencies involved in the training and certifi cation of seafarers.
Under the law, Marina is tasked to implement and enforce the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, or the STCW Convention.
“Thus, Marina is authorized to assume all powers and functions of the Professional Regulations Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Health and National Telecommunications Commission and all matters concerning STCW,” Abaya said.
“What this means to you is less red tape, less bureaucracy. It streamlines the steps you have to go through in order to practice your profession,” Abaya told the UC graduates.
He also told them that this is the government’s way of saying, “Since you are seafarers, remit a significant amount of resources to our country to keep our economy afloat, nevertheless we can do to you is to make life easier for you are only trying to earn a decent living and pursue a top professional career.”
Abaya informed the graduates that the Philippines has recently been audited by the European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) for compliance with the STCW Convention.
“The Emsa audit report will be deliberated upon and voted by the European Commission anytime now.
At stake is the employment of around 80,000 Filipino seafarers working on EU flag vessels, or perhaps more practically the 14,000 Filipino officers on these ships,” he said.
Abaya said they have addressed certain deficiencies previously identified by Emsa, especially with the passage of RA 1063, as well as through the full implementation of a National Quality Standard System.
He said he and Marina Administrator Maximo Mejia Jr. went to Europe last month to meet with high-level officials from different countries to convey not only the reforms that they have instituted but also to explain to them the values of the Filipino seafarers to the global maritime industry. (EOB)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 06, 2014.