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Envying PH sailors

July 11, 2023 Mario Fetalino Jr. 391 views

Mario FetalinoONE day, I entered a parking lot in Intramuros, Manila and noticed it was full of brand new and shiny high-end vehicles.

I asked the parking boy to whom the cars belong to and he said they were owned by seamen. I looked around and saw a group of young Filipino sailors talking to each other. One opened the front door of a new Sports Utility Vehicle to get his bag.

I can’t deny that I envied the mariners for their cool cars because mine is an old and tiny peoples’ car. However, I truly admired the success Filipino sailors are reaping because of their skills and hardwork.

And I’m more delighted to learn that our mariners are facing a much brighter future. Reports indicated that efforts are underway to upgrade the curriculum of local maritime academies.

This came amid fears that tens of thousands of Filipino seafarers will lose their jobs if they fall short of certain international standards.

A faculty member at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) in Mariveles, Bataan, said the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are jointly working to address perceived weaknesses in the curriculum of Philippine maritime schools, especially in the area of safety.

He noted that MAAP and other maritime academies expect to receive new teaching guidelines as soon as the two regulatory agencies release the improved syllabus.

It was also reported that the publication by the MARINA and CHED of course upgrades are imminent, and they “will be implemented immediately” without waiting for the next school year.

The Philippine maritime industry recently got a reprieve when the European Commission (EC) decided to continue recognizing safety certifications issued by the MARINA. We owe this to the intervention of the government.

About 30 percent of Filipino seafarers, including both officers and ordinary seamen, were at risk of job loss.

The ones who were in most danger were those working for European Union-based shipping companies because it was the European Maritime Safety Agency that pointed out the deficiencies.

In April, Adina Văean, the EC’s commissioner for transport, announced that the 27-nation bloc decided to consider the safety certifications issued by MARINA after “constructive cooperation” with Philippine authorities, recognizing their “efforts to improve the system for training and certifying seafarers.”

The EC’s move staved off what could have meant unemployment for up to 50,000 Filipino sailors.

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), through its affiliate, the Associated Philippine Seafarers’ Union, proposed that “ship owners, employers, and the government provide the appropriate policy and program support for the continuing education and upskilling of Filipino seafarers, that they may retain their jobs or transition to suitable positions, amidst disruptions brought about by the 4th industrial revolution.

The labor union said seafarers’ jobs will be affected by the coming fourth industrial revolution in maritime fuels and networked digital information systems, which will happen as an inevitable result of the international maritime industry’s commitment to de-carbonization in response to the threat of climate change.

TUCP urged the government to take the necessary steps to improve the competency of Filipino sailors to ensure that they remain the preferred international hire.

Hoping the best for our young and verypromising sailors.

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