By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has issued Executive Order No. 63 further strengthening the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) as the single maritime administration to ensure the protection as well as competitiveness of Filipino seafarers.
Under the EO, the President has directed MARINA to evaluate requests for approval of marine education programs such as Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering.
The MARINA, in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), must also evaluate and inspect all maritime higher education institutions to ensure that maritime education programs comply with the international regulations.
The same EO also reconstituted the Technical Panel on Maritime Education, which will now include five members from MARINA and four from CHED.
The latest presidential order aims to ensure the county’s compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention).
The country’s full compliance with STCW Convention would “ensure continuous recognition by the international community of STCW Certificates issued by the Philippine Government, and thereby guarantee sufficient employment opportunities for Filipino seafarers abroad.”
“The authority of MARINA, as the Single Maritime Administration, shall be strengthened to enable it to take all necessary steps and strategies, consistent with its mandate, to ensure that the obligations of the Philippines under SCTW Convention are faithfully, effectively and fully complied with,” the order read.
It must also “establish systems and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of well-being of the seafarers thereby ensuring their professionalism and competitiveness, both in local and international trade.”
The same EO also directed MARINA to coordinate with the Department of Health on the establishment of standard for medical fitness and the procedures for the issuance of medical certificates to Filipino seafarers. The health practitioners must be accredited by the DOH.
The MARINA and the Philippine Coast Guard have also been directed to establish control procedures to verify and ensure that seafarers on board ships in Philippine ports have the proper certificates.
The MARINA is expected to submit to the Office of the President a progress report within six months from the effectivity of EO 63.
The order, signed last September 21, will take effect upon publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.