Despite the Philippine Maritime Administration’s efforts to conform to the international standards laid out by the European Union attached agency European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the country’s maritime higher education institutions (MHEIs) and maritime training institutions (MTIs) were found to commit major non-conformances (NCs), Buhay Marino Dyaryo learned from a reliable source.

However, the source, who opted not to be identified, disclosed that based on the audit report made by EMSA in its latest visit to Manila in early March this year, the audit team noted several deficiencies committed by MHEIs and MTIs. The said audit report has yet to be released though the parties concerned were reportedly notified of their deficiencies.

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for its part preferred not to discuss the matter to the public as the Administration is doing its best with the cooperation of the concerned maritime agencies and stakeholders to rectify the said deficit.

It can be recalled that when EMSA representatives Dr. Mircea Tinel-Udrea and Ms. Catarina Ramos arrived in Manila last 13 March for another round of inspection, the MARINA made an effort in helping selected MHEIs and MTIs in preparation for the said appraisal.

At the opening meeting of the EMSA inspection in March, Dr. Udrea reiterated that they want to learn more about the training in the Philippines and to evaluate the status of the implementation of the STCW in areas of education, training and certification.

He also clarified that the scope of their visit is to learn and improve the system in addressing the shortcomings.

Sadly, a report alleged that while EMSA audit is in progress, one MHEI in Cebu voluntarily closed their bachelor program, at the same time, the MTI in the same area was found to be defective. Two [2] other MHEIs from the south, one from CALABARZON and another from the southern province were also inspected.

At that time, MARINA is reportedly consolidating all the findings and probably will release the conclusion of the EMSA inspection sooner or later but reiterated their continued efforts to stop poor quality maritime programs.

EMSA key issues in the PHL

The Philippine maritime education, training and certification have been the key issues the EMSA raised in several audits they conducted in Manila since 2006.

From then on, the Philippines is constantly rectifying every single area in maritime education, training and certification in an effort to comply to the international standards as mandated in the 2010 STCW Manila Amendments.

In the previous MARINA administration, the EMSA audit team reiterated its action to appraise the country’s compliance to the areas of deficiencies and observations of the EU-attached agency in its previous visits and these include, (1) quality standards system; (2) programs and course approval; (3) issuance of officers’ Certificates of Competency (COC); and (4) monitoring and evaluation of training and assessment.

In the same EMSA briefing in March, MARINA STCW Office identified 77 STCW compliant maritime schools, 42 in Luzon; 20 in the Visayas and 15 in Mindanao regions respectively. The STCW Office also detailed that there are 136 accredited MTIs nationwide, 96 in Luzon, 25 in the Visayas and 15 in Mindanao.

MARINA also laid out its direction since 2006 when EMSA visited the Philippines and gave their findings including its succeeding trips and what were the initiatives taken to address the deficiencies and to conform to the standards set. The Administration also took several opportunities with other countries and international maritime groups through several memoranda in improving the standards of education and training of the Instructors and to advance the quality of Filipino seafarers.

Dr. Udrea furthered that they want to discuss and learn more on how things are shaping up particularly the systems in the Philippines as far as STCW compliance is concerned.

Administrator Amaro on the other hand, echoed the MARINA’s endeavor in the improvement of the MHEIs and MTIs systems as well as its commitment in the development, promotion and regulatory functions for the advancement of the Filipino seafarers.

“We are not experts in all aspects but we are trying to comply and address the shortcomings because we would like our [Filipino] seafarers to be at par with the international standards. So, we are not only regulating but we are also promoting the development of our seafarers’ industry particularly that they [seafarers] contributed $6 billion to the coffer of the Philippine economy,” Dr. Amaro stressed.

At the same time, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shared that the commission is closely working with MARINA specifically in the re-classification of the MHEIs and has prepared its strategic plans for the progress of the maritime schools.

EMSA audit team conducted its inspection in Manila and Cebu in March.

Problem on shipboard training

Shipboard training is a must for maritime graduates before their eventual deployment to international sea-going vessels. This has been the long standing concern of many MHEIs as most of their graduates failed to get employment with the absence of sufficient shipboard training.

The same apprehension was raised by the country’s maritime institutions when MARINA convened MHEIs and MTIs in July.

At the Open Discussion, Mr. Benito Chiongbian, president of West Bay Colleges said, he really felt sad because the institution’s problem is the lack of berth.

“We talk of more numbers and we need to assess the students if they really learn, he added.

According to Chiongbian, the Training Record Book (TRB) must be provided to properly monitor the learning of students while at berth.

“It does not mean that 3-months shipboard completes the 1-year requirement. Monitoring counts but the question is, does MARINA really monitor,” Chiongbian furthered.

The same sentiment was raised by Capt. Ronald SJ. Enrile, Senior Director for Government Affairs and Sectoral Representation of Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc.

“Does MARINA accept or honor Cadets certificates without completing the required 8-hour per day training?,” Enrile asked.

He reiterated that MARINA assessors must be smart enough if 2-months shipboard training has been completed and consummated.

CE Fred Haboc, member of the Ad Hoc Committee for Shipboard of the CHED, agrees with the argument of Enrile saying that 80 percent of Ratings at present are products of the said scheme. He also argued that Cadets should not need a Certificate of Proficiency (COP).

As of this writing, CHED has finalized the CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) for Shipboard Training for domestic ships.

Lapses continue to hound PHL MTIs

In the same meeting, serious lapses in training, standards, rules and regulation continue to hound Philippine-based MTIs, the MARINA STCW Office Surveillance Division announced.

A series of surveillance operations from January to April, inspected 51 MTIs and found out that 23 or 47 percent unable to meet the required norms.

This is considered a slight improvement compared to the 2015-2016 period, when 57 percent of MTIs visited have the remarks “with noted findings.” The figure however covers a longer period and more MTIs inspected relative to the 2017 period.

At the meeting, the latest violations were presented by the Surveillance Division which are considered common breaches of training rules and regulations:

1. Including the names of non-attending learners in enrollment reports and attendance sheets of ATP, ROE or ROA – 8 percent;

2. Issuing documentary evidence described under Sec. 2 (d) of RA. 10635 of any of the approved METPs or ATPs, where the learner did not comply with the attendance, participation or satisfactory completion requirements, as prescribed by MARINA – three percent;

3. Conducting or implementing an METP or ATP not in accordance with the approved accreditation, or any subsequent amendment to such approval granted by the MARINA – four percent;

4. Conducting an METP or ATP where laboratory equipment, simulators, or similar items, are insufficient, unavailable or non-operational, at any given time, as prescribed by MARINA based on STCW – five percent;

5. Conducting an METP or ATP where prescribed instructors, assessors or other staff requirements, are insufficient, unavailable or not competent, at any given time, as prescribed by MARINA – 19 percent;

6. Hiring, employing or engaging the services of an instructor and assessors without securing accreditation from the STCW Office or the accreditation of such instructors and assessors has been expired – five percent;

7. Non-observance of policies and procedures of the Quality System – 1%

8. Allowing instructors to conduct summative assessment of its own class for the purpose of certification – four percent;

9. Deviation from the prescribed timetable, detailed teaching syllabus and instructor’s guide for each particular training program without proper notation in the course monitoring instrument – 11 percent. n

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