In a press release issued last Friday through the EU delegation in Manila, the European Commission confirmed that the Philippine authorities have made substantial efforts to bring their maritime education, training and certification system in line with the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). At the same time, the Commission said that there are still concerns and the Philippine authorities need to demonstrate that the audit plans in place are actually being carried out. Furthermore, competent staff must be available to monitor the numerous maritime education and training institutions operating in the country. The Commission has requested the Philippine authorities to provide by end July the necessary evidence to demonstrate that all outstanding deficiencies have been resolved. Failure to do so may still result in the loss of EU recognition. A further EMSA inspection is envisaged for October to verify on the spot the implementation of the measures taken.
“As of 2012, the Philippine maritime administration has gone through a genuine paradigm shift”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven in a reaction, “We are confident that the authorities will do everything possible to ensure full implementation of the positive measures enacted. Our members have been providing technical assistance on the ground, in cooperation with Member States. And as ECSA we will continue our role as ‘honest broker’ between the Philippine administration and the European Commission. Together, we are undertaking all efforts to safeguard the EU recognition of the Philippines under the STCW Convention.”
Directive 2001/25 on the minimum training level of seafarers gives the European Commission the task of assessing training and certification systems in third countries, in order to verify whether they comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention. This EU wide recognition allows Member States to recognise certificates issued by third countries. The Commission has entrusted EMSA to conduct inspection visits, to compile all relevant information on the implementation of the Convention. The EMSA audits in the Philippines have taken place against this background.
To date, there are approximately around 15.000 Filipino masters and officers working onboard ships registered in the EU.