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Ople sees higher demand for Filipino seafarers after Europe OKs certification

MANILA, April 5 ------ The Philippines expects the demand for Filipino seafarers to rise after the European Commission decided to continue recognizing seafarer certificates issued from Southeast Asian countries, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said. “Nakikita natin na bubulusok ang demand for our seafarers not only for the EU but throughout the world,” Ople told reporters in a virtual press conference. “It’s a vote of confidence in the Philippines and in the quality of training, education and certification of our seafarers,” she said.

The European Commission earlier acknowledged that the Philippines has been working to improve the training and certification of seafarers in the country after a recent audit. “We are internationally compliant… This will boost the competitiveness and demand for our Filipino seafarers,” the Secretary said. “Psychologically talaga, our seafarers and their families can heave a sigh of relief,” she said.

As of 2022, there are some 490,000 Filipino seafarers in different parts of the world, Ople said, citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). “Kaunti na lang, mari-reach na natin yung pre-pandemic levels,” she said. “With this EU decision and the passage of the Magna Carta for Seafarers… this will reinforce the competitiveness of the Philippines being a source country of seafarers,” she said.

Ople claimed that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was instrumental in convincing the Commission not to decertify the some 50,000 seafarers from the Philippines. “Remember, noong nagpunta siya sa Brussels, nakipagkita siya sa European ship owners? He really spent time with them and he assured them of the government’s commitment to comply,” she said. “This resulted in talks regarding technical assistance from the EU itself to our maritime institutions. He also met with the Japanese ship owners,” she added.

The next step is for several government departments “to work as a team to make sure” that the Philippines keeps the “momentum set in motion by this very good news from the EU commission,” Ople said. “Ang mahalaga ay for MARINA and CHED… that they work closely together just to make sure na hindi na ulit tayo mahuhulog sa bangin ng alanganin,” she said. “CHED told us na may moratorium na sa pag accredit ng mga bagong maritime schools habang pinagbubuti pa lalo yung competences, mga training standards sa mga existing schools.”

The Department of Transportation said that there are still at least 5 deficiencies the Philippines has to address before it gains the Commission’s full nod. Among these items are the inclusion of simulators for maritime training, on board exercises and the improvement of the issuance and revalidation of certificates and endorsements for seafarers. “Wala pang deadline… Gumawa na ng hakbang ang MARINA kung paano itutuloy, seseryosohin yung mga nilagay na nila sa report… including yun ngang mga pangangailangan ng mga maritime training schools,” said Transportation Undersecretary Joni Gesmundo. Gesmundo said the Department of Transportation is expected to meet concerned agencies in the coming days to discuss a more detailed plan to resolve the remaining discrepancies.

Ople said This time, “complacency is out of the question.” “The next step would be for us… to work as a team to make sure na yung momentum set in motion by this very good news from the EU commission,” she said. “We will be aiming for the stars when it comes to compliance records.”



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