Philippines Under Fire Over Poor Training Standards For Seafarers

The Philippines is continuing its policy to close what it judges to be substandard maritime courses following a negative assessment by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

EMSA’s audit of the country’s training facilities uncovered major deficiencies and non-compliance in maritime education and training.

The clampdown is being orchestrated through the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), which recently controversially closed down two maritime courses offered at the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI), a major supplier of seafarers.

PMI had reportedly been highlighted by the EMSA audit.

Ched commissioners found that the PMI programmes in bachelors of science in marine transportation and marine engineering did not meet the required standard.

Ched chairperson Patricia Licuanan said: “The commission’s duty is to safeguard and preserve the quality and standards of the Philippine maritime education and maintain our country’s good standing in the global seafaring community.”

Licuanan added that Ched would continue to monitor the standards and put a progamme in place to improve education.

The move is being viewed as an attempt to demonstrate to Europe that the Philippines is taking action on trying to improve seafarer training.

However, although there have been fears voiced about a Europe- wide ban on seafarers from the Phillipines, industry sources believe this is unlikely to happen.

Firstly, it would be up to each European Union (EU) state to decide whether they would continue to accept Philippine Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certification rather than a blanket ban across all member countries.

Secondly, it would be unfair to ban all Philippine seafarers when the problem is limited to selected schools.

One shipmanager told TradeWinds: “Even if a Philippine seafarer went to a substandard school, who is to say he has not reached to required level of competence while at sea?”

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