UFS Urges Government to Examine Seafarers’ Hardships

Urging the government to examine the hardships of thousands of seafarers whose jobs are in jeopardy following the Philippines’ refusal to comply with the EU’s education and maritime safety requirements, the United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) hold the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) responsible for the current state of Filipino seamen.

According to UFS president, Nelson Ramirez, “As a result of the country’s failure in two audits by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), education and training certificates issued by the Philippine government to seafarers will soon no longer be honored by EU ship owners and regulators. The future looks dim. We have been calling the attention of MARINA to improve maritime education, but we are being ignored.”

Ramirez pointed out that MARINA’s poor leadership has nearly cost around 80,000 maritime workers, who are currently serving on EU-flagged vessels, their livelihood, given the cancellation of their STCW credentials.

Last year, the nation failed the audit that was conducted by the EU’s EMSA regarding the quality of training, education, and competency certificates issued to Filipino seafarers by the government. These audits were conducted as part of the compliance with the new STCW standards.

Said EU Transport Commissioner, Maximilian Strotmann, “It is something that cannot be negotiated. It is a technical issue, and what the EU was doing was regular verification or audit of the state of technical and legal preparedness of seafarers’ education system in countries which have seafarers working on EU-flagged ships.”

Among other complaints of Filipino seafarers, long lines at the MARINA offices, the widespread problem of fake Marina certificates, and the replacement of a seaman’s book with a piece of paper that is presented to maritime authorities overseas, are at the top of the list.

Ramirez went on to say that “[t]he UFS hopes to get one million ‘shares’ and one million ‘likes’ of the petition which will be presented to President Aquino and the public in a rally,” Ramirez said.

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