The legislature requires MARINA to include a course at the highest level in the basic curriculum for seafarers – Rappler | Team Cansler

MANILA, Philippines — Two lawmakers have urged the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to integrate its Management Level Course (MLC) into the core curriculum of Filipino seafarers so that all have access to higher skills and avoid additional tuition fees.

Kabayan Representative Ron Salo, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Workers Affairs, and Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas made the appeal during a House hearing on Thursday, November 17. Certification and Watchkeeping Requirements (STCW).

Samuel Batalla, officer in charge of the MARINA STCW Executive Director’s Office, said the MLC is a requirement for seafarers who aspire to become masters, first mates, chief engineers and engineering officers. Not all seafarers are required to take this course, but it is required by the STCW for those aspiring to higher positions.

Brosas said she has received reports that the MLC will cost around 50,000 to 60,000 pesos ($872 to $1,047). Batalla said those fees go to the training providers because they have the equipment and the instructors.

But Brosas said MARINA should regulate those fees.

You have the power to regulate, na magsabi na hindi dapat ganito kamahal. Ganito kalaki ang binabayaran ng ating mga marino para lang nang sa ganon, nagkakaroon sila ng chance of management-level course… na dapat naman talaga napro-provide natin sa mga marino kasi gusto naman na itataas ‘yong kanilang kakayanan,‘ Brosas said.

(They have the power to regulate, saying it shouldn’t be that expensive. Our seafarers are only paying that much for it so they have an opportunity to take a management level course, which we should be offering our seafarers because we want to that they have higher competencies.)

Salo said non-integration is a limitation for seafarers’ carriage.

Kung iaaayos naman natin ‘yong curriculum, ba’t hindi natin isama to ensure na mayroon nang avenue para doon sa mga graduates are natin na umangat without having to go through these special training courses?‘ Salo said.

(If we’re revising the syllabus anyway, why not just incorporate it to ensure our graduates have a way to advance without having to go through these specialized training courses?)

Batalla said there is ongoing syllabus review and that there are proposals to include all managerial competencies in the BS Marine Transportation and BS Marine Engineering program syllabuses.

“There is some manifestation and feedback that not all managerial skills can be incorporated into the curriculum because they are just students,” Batalla said in a mixture of English and Filipino.

He said there are prerequisites of operational level experience before a seafarer is able to understand the MLC. Batalla also mentioned that there are plans to convert some of the MLC classes to distance learning so deployed seafarers can complete the course while on board ships.

The jobs of some 50,000 Filipino seafarers currently deployed on European Union-flagged ships will be at risk if the Safe Seafaring Committee comes to a negative decision on the Philippines’ certification in November.

At its most recent audit in 2020, the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) found 13 deficiencies and 23 grievances in the Philippines’ performance, including lack of training equipment and discrepancies in instruction and assessment.

MARINA also called for an “independent assessment” in March 2022, also in accordance with the STCW, to be carried out by a panel of international experts. They found 15 discrepancies.

Batalla said the results of the independent assessment raise the potential risk to the jobs of all Filipinos deployed around the world, and not just on EU ships. That could be as many as 600,000 Filipino seafarers, he said.

MARINA said in September that it was working “around the clock” to fix the nonconformities and observations in the first phase of the independent assessment. It released a report on the Philippines’ strategic corrective actions to comply in June.

According to MARINA, the independent assessor will begin its second phase of assessment by December to verify the country’s eligibility for inclusion in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) White List.

“The non-inclusion of the Philippines in the IMO White List will have a huge impact on the continued employment of Filipino seafarers on board ocean-going vessels and the commercial status of Philippine-registered vessels in overseas trade,” MARINA said in September.

The Department for Migrant Workers previously said 2022 is the last year set aside by EMSA for compliance.

Higher Education Commission chairman Prospero “Popoy” de Vera said in Thursday’s hearing that CHED and MARINA are continuing to work together to create a model curriculum for all universities and colleges that offer courses for seafarers and that the reform of the Curriculum priority corresponded to EMSA’s comments.

“That is what I said [President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] in two cabinet meetings – that we need to look seriously at shipboard training or the shipboard component because it has a direct impact on the kind of seafarers we produce,” De Vera said.

The CHED chair compared this to a medical school but without good training hospitals. “Ah, SiempreThey will not make good doctors or good nurses.” – Rappler.com

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