By Lorenz S. Marasigan, March 25 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

THE government has vowed to take steps to improve the state of the local maritime education, training, examination and assessment system, as it gears up to “solidify” its position as a whitelisted nation in the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said he has instructed the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to ensure that the country’s status in the specialized agency of the United Nations remains.

“Our mariners invest blood, sweat and tears in their work, and the government should repay that by ensuring that we remain on the IMO white list. We need to protect the livelihood and welfare of our seafarers,” he added.

He did not elaborate on what actions will be taken to ensure the Philippines remains on the list.

Being included on the white list implies that the Philippines is compliant with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).

Being on the list gives Filipino seafarers a huge advantage, as this reflects that they underwent strict training and education.

A panel of international maritime experts will conduct an independent evaluation in April as part of the Philippines’s continuing compliance with the pertinent provisions of the STCW of 1978.

Particularly, they will be checking if the country’s maritime sector is compliant with Regulation I/8, which requires countries to periodically undertake independent assessments of “the effectiveness of the quality standard arrangements at all levels.”

The forthcoming assessment, according to Marina Administrator Narciso Vingson Jr., will “solidify the Philippines inclusion on the white list of the IMO.”

“Our engagement with the professional services of independent evaluators shows our full efforts in maintaining our seafarer’s reputation worldwide as a dependable maritime work force. We will continue to comply with IMO standards for the benefit of our seafarers,” he said.

The results of next month’s evaluation will form part of the regular Communication of Information of the Philippines to the IMO as required under Regulation I/7 of the convention.

The government has been intensifying its efforts to remain on the white list, as removal from the list could have serious implications on Filipino seafarers abroad.

There are as many as 400,000 Filipino seafarers deployed in different parts of the world to date, remitting about $5.8 billion annually.