ANGKLA Partylist cautioned the maritime industry on several issues pertaining to the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10635, an Act establishing the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) as the Single Maritime Administration responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended, and International Agreements or Covenants related thereto.

This was the statement of Atty. Jesulito Manalo, ANGKLA Partylist Representative when asked about the actions of MARINA and its stakeholders in amending the IRR of the RA 10635 in an effort to rectify the so-called flaws in the provisions of the IRR.

“If a law is written well, it does not need an IRR. With an IRR, the spirit of the law becomes dissimilar since it’s no longer the lawmaker who does it, but the executive,” Manalo clarified.

Manalo warned that the IRR of RA 10635 is expanding the provisions and this should not be done.

“And the executive has no authority to write the law. Kaya gumugulo tayo may agency na gumagawa ng IRR na parang sila ang gumagawa ng batas,” Manalo furthered.

The lawmaker said he is looking into the scope of the IRR of the RA 10635 and cautioned for its cancellation.

“Kaya tinitingnan ko yan kung outside of scope ng RA 10635 yang IRR na yan, I will move for its cancellation. So, the lawmaker is responsible. Are you over vet or over stepping your ground? Kaya mayroong perception, aayusin sa IRR, no such thing,” Manalo maintained.

He said he created the law to be implemented and if there’s a violation of the law or if another law is needed, then it has to be rewritten.

It can be recalled that during the term of the former MARINA Administrator CE Marcial Amaro III, a multilateral Technical Working Group (TWG) was created to look after the IRR of the RA 10635, claiming that it contains several defects in the provisions.

On October 2017, MARINA and its stakeholders started reviewing the IRR with the TWG and drafted the IRR. Several consultation meetings were also held and some quarters alleged that the law was rushed to appease the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) which conducted series of audit in the Philippines with its findings on deficient maritime education, training and certification.

Until the departure of Amaro from MARINA, nothing is heard on the update of the so-called revisions on the IRR of RA 10635.

DOTr scraps plan to takeover CHED’s functions

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation backed off its plans to take over the maritime education functions from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), through the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

Last March, it was reported that the DOTr had initiated talks with the Office of the President, which directly administers CHED, for MARINA to assume the functions of CHED in regulating maritime higher education institutions (MHEIs).

Accordingly, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade personally prefers MARINA to regulate BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) programs.

MARINA has been toying on the idea for some time now, believing that such takeover would address some of the shortcomings identified by the European Commission in a report sent to the Philippines in late January.

In the last “Usapang STCW Forum,” however, STCW Office officer-in-Charge Atty. Vera Joy Ban-eg disclosed that the MARINA Board decided finally to give up on the idea.

The Board, in its last meeting in March, saw that “there’s no need (for the transfer),” Atty. Ban-eg announced.

“Let CHED handle the granting of BS degree and let MARINA do its functions under R.A. (Republic Act No.) 10635.”

“We’re not pursuing the transfer of CHED functions to (MARINA). Instead, the final agreement is to let the BS degree stay with CHED,” the STCW Office acting chief said.

Meanwhile, Atty. Ban-eg said that MARINA had to develop the officer-in-Charge (OIC) program. “Under (R.A.) 10635, MARINA can develop the OIC program up to management level (program).”

In effect, MARINA plans to adopt the proposal of some groups to have an alternative way to becoming a marine officer without completing a BSMT or BSMarE degree. Such is the practice in other countries. Atty. Ban-eg mentioned Norway, which she said, had the same program.

“Maritime education in the Philippine will have two (programs): a BS degree and a non-BS degree, but both will lead to COC (Certificate of Competency).”

She laid out the situations that apparently contributed to the MARINA Board’s final position.

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