Sunday, February 2, 2014
MANILA-The Senate passed on second reading Senate Bill No. 2043 which proposes to create a single maritime administration to oversee the training and certification of about 400,000 Filipino seafarers across the globe.
“The passage of this bill demonstrate a serious effort on the part of the Philippine government to overhaul its policies concerning our seafarers and make them aligned with the international standards,” said Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, author of the bill.
Drilon hailed his colleagues for acting swiftly on the proposed measure which he described as “a very urgent measure” to evade a looming blacklist from the European Union (EU) due to the country’s continued failure to demonstrate compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended (STCW Convention).
"Let us not wait for the impending ban to commence, which will cost our country even more in terms of resources and efforts," Drilon stressed.
The Senate chief said the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)’s latest audit report that will determine if the Philippines is taking steps to align its policies governing administration of seafarers with the STCW Convention is due to be released anytime soon.
The Senator warned that aside from debilitating socio-economic damages, the potential blacklisting by foreign entities will be "a shameful smear to our country's pride and reputation that we must dutifully strive to avoid."
"The country will lose billions of pesos from sea-based workers’ remittances which have aided the economy by fueling domestic consumption and preventing foreign exchange instability," he said. In 2012, seafarers’ remittances reached nearly $5 billion in 2012, he noted.
“Given their significant contributions to keep our economy afloat, our country's maritime workers deserve proactive government action,” noted Drilon.
Earlier, Drilon called for the swift passage of the bill “in order to avert impending ban on 80,000 Filipino seafarers by the European Union.”
Aside from aligning our maritime system with the international standards and addressing inefficiencies in the current system, the passage of the bill would also assure that the skills and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers are harnessed, he concluded.