By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento is asking the House Committee on Transportation to look into the status of pre-departure, on-site and other support services provided by government agencies to seafarers.
He noted that the Philippines remains to be the top source of seafarers around the world and continues to benefit from the billions of remittances being poured into the country every year by Filipino seafarers.
“There is a need to ensure that the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Office of MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) and OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), and other concerned agencies, are complementing their efforts in order to provide effective and integrated support services to our seafarers, to prevent the wastage of funds and to ensure that we really deploy and maintain competent seafarers who have undergone quality training,” Sarmiento said in filing House Resolution 2022.
Republic Act 10635 designated MARINA as the single maritime administration mandated to implement and enforce the 1978 International Convention on STCW for Seafarers in order to carry out an effective regulatory framework conducive to the efficiency, transparency and competitiveness of the Philippine seafaring industry.
Under the law, MARINA is tasked to provide support to current and future seafarers by enforcing the basic standards and requirements in trainings, certifications and watch-keeping for seafarers and ensuring that maritime education and medical examinations and certifications are in accordance with international conventions.
“The House Committee on Transportation should look into the status of trainings and other programs provided by the STCW Office of MARINA and the utilization of the budget,” Sarmiento said.
He noted that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is also mandated to provide services to OFWs, including seafarers, in all three stages of migration: pre-departure, on-site and upon return.
He said the status of trainings and other programs provided by OWWA, including those provided to seafarers, and the status of the utilization of the OWWA fund should also be looked into.
The OWWA implements various services including education on realities of overseas work and basic language training before OFWs, including seafarers, are deployed abroad; and other trainings and assistance while OFWs, including seafarers are abroad. Such services are funded by the OWWA fund, which is almost entirely sourced from the 25 US dollar contributions from OFWs either by compulsory or voluntary registration.
Sarmiento said the House panel should also probe “the actions or steps undertaken to ensure coordinated support services being provided to our seafarers with the end view of ensuring quality trainings here and abroad.”