Seafarer bill sees swift passage in Philippine Congress
by FFE PH News Staff
Both the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives passed the Seafarer bill on Monday that seeks to protect the jobs of around 100,000 Filipino seafarers in the EU.
Senate president Franklin Drilon, who is also the principal author of the bill, said that he expects President Aquino to sign the bill into law before February ends.
The Seafarer bill, also known as the Marina bill, aims to consolidate all seafarer training agencies into one agency that will be called the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
At present, those who want to be seafarers have to train and get certificates from multiple agencies: the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Health (DOH) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
By consolidating training and certification under Marina, the Philippines will be compliant with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention).
Filipino seafarers were at risk of an EU blacklist since the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audited the country last year and found that the Philippines did not yet comply with STCW conventions. Drilon said ‘With the passage of the bill, we can now say that our country is taking broad efforts to maintain our compliance with the STCW Convention, thus averting any need for the EU to proceed with their ban on our workers.’
It is estimated that 100,000 Filipino seafarers are working onboard EU ships. Aside from protecting their jobs, Drilon said the Seafarer bill will also better the position of the Philippines ‘in the seafarer industry, where Filipino workers are often favoured due to their skill and work ethic.
‘More than ensuring our compliance, the passage of this bill will assure [the world] that the skills of our seafarers are properly honed through continuous training and updating of the curriculum to be administered by Marina.’