March 27, 2019
NEXT month, an international panel of experts will begin an independent evaluation of whether the Philippines has been compliant with global seafaring standards.
This was the seemingly innocuous announcement made to the press by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) earlier this week. The outcome of this evaluation, not many would know, could have an impact on the economic security of some 400,000 Filipino seafarers and their families.
In a press statement, the Transportation department and Marina vowed that the Philippines would “fully comply with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for seafarers to maintain its status in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) ‘White List.’”
The statement was released after The Manila Times published an exclusive story last week that the Philippines was in danger of being removed from the so-called White List of countries compliant with global seafaring standards under the STCW, which is enforced by the IMO, the London-based UN agency.
Documents obtained by The Times showed that an IMO subcommittee did not include the Philippines in an initial listing of compliant countries following a meeting earlier this year.
“This revised list excludes those Parties that either have not submitted their subsequent reports or have submitted them outside the time periods prescribed so that they are still under consideration by the competent persons,” the IMO document stated.
It is quite clear that the Philippines has been unable to comply with the IMO reporting requirements, an embarrassment considering the country’s status as a major supplier of seafarers.
In reaction, the DoTr and Marina called on the public to “remain vigilant against claims that the country was allegedly excluded from the IMO White List.”
The Times made no such claims. The paper’s March 18 banner headline read, “PH risks dropping out of global maritime list.” The story quoted lawyer Brenda Pimentel, former IMO regional coordinator in East Asia and a columnist for The Times, who said the IMO document “appears authentic,” but it was not the White List.
The DoTr-Marina press release did not mention or explain why the Philippines failed to make it to the initial listing of compliant countries made by the IMO subcommittee following its meeting earlier this year.
DoTr and Marina, it seems, would rather keep these things to themselves even as they claim to be “taking the necessary steps to consistently improve the country’s maritime education, training, examination, and assessment system.”
Henceforth, Marina should be transparent and disclose the results of the April 2019 audit, as well as report to the public and its stakeholders the status of the country’s compliance with IMO standards.
The Times has done its part by reporting what the public needed to know: the status of such an important sector of the economy, and that the jobs of tens of thousands of seafarers are at stake if the country totally fails to meet IMO reporting standards. Moreover, the public, in particular, maritime industry stakeholders, needed to know that an important audit was forthcoming.
Having said all this, Marina deserves multi-stakeholder support as it undergoes this independent evaluation.
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net