Fate of Filipino Seafarers Hangs over EMSA Evaluation

Article excerpt

Manila, Philippines - The German Shipowners Association (Verband Deutscher Reeder) is anxiously waiting the final word of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on its evaluation of Philippine maritime administration and education which many fear could lead to a rejection of seafarers training certificates from the country. Dr. Dirk Max Johns, managing director of the Hamburg-based VDR, said German shipowners are worried about the fate of 80,000 seafarers who ply the seas on board E.U-flagged ocean-going commercial vessels. We are all waiting anxiously about any news from the audit. Nothing has been leaking so far, so we dont know where it is leading to, he said in an e-mail to the Manila Bulletin. However, the likelihood of the EU Commission to not recognize the certificates from the Philippines is relatively high, he said. The EMSA conducted its second leg of assessment on the state of Manilas maritime administration in October. Johns said amid overwhelming support extended by the governments of Germany, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands to train Filipino seafarers, the Philippine government should exhaust all means not just to pass the EMSA audit, but to improve and upgrade local standards of maritime training. He said EMSA zeroed in the commitment of Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to undertake very serious quality control of the schools. Marina and other agencies have been asked to audit or control the maritime schools prodding them to seek the assistance from the DNV or Germanischer Lloyd. If the Philippine government fails the maritime audit, 80,000 Filipino seafarers will lose their jobs and be banned from working at the EU-registered vessels, Johns had earlier warned. During his visit to Germany in early June, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay was assured by some 50 German shipping titans that they would keep their Filipino crew members as well as support the Philippine governments efforts to pass the EUs October maritime safety audit. …