In the Philippines, the Department of Transportation and Communication met with the EU to prevent the banning of Filipino officers from European ships.
Following an audit last October, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) raised the possibility of blacklisting Filipino officers after they discovered deficiencies by the Maritime Industry Authority with regard to ensuring compliance with STCW regulations.
Such a blacklist would affect thousands of jobs for Filipino officers currently serving on European vessels. Last week, Transportation Secretary, Joseph Abaya said that a decision would be reached on the blacklist by the middle of 2014. Mr. Abaya was in Brussels to meet with EU vice president and transport commissioner, Siim Kallas to talk about how a blacklist could be avoided.
Said Abaya, “The VP of the European Commission Siim Kallas mentioned June as a date [of the decision]. We were in the EU to convey that a law has been passed on the single maritime agency and other actions undertaken by government to address pending issues since the October audit. Since our very first audit it was only President Aquino and the administration who has shown the resolve to issue an EO [executive order] and have a law enacted. Filipino seafarers continue to be the preferred seafarers of the world.”
Abaya said that there were other options to pursue if the EU did, in fact, issue a negative ruling; however, he did not discuss those options in detail. He did note that there were delays in establishing reforms due to the timing of the recent audit.
A negative outcome in this situation would be a huge blow to the credibility of Filipino mariners, and the administration as well. Abaya conveyed, “We are hoping and praying that the EU sees the resolve and commitment of this administration to comply with the STCW convention and continue to look after the welfare of our seafarers.”