By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY – The first maritime educational institution in the country that was granted university status has decried a false news report that it was being recommended for closure.
“It is not true. This school has been a benchmark for maritime education for years,” emphasized Dr. Ronald Raymond Lacson Sebastian, chief executive officer (CEO) of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU).
This was after several Iloilo media entities wrongfully cited an unverified report from a national newspaper that JBLFMU was one of the 61 schools that Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) recommended for closure after allegedly failing the audit of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Sebastian said the false news report affected students, parents and even shipping companies, which hire seafarer-graduates of JBLFMU.
Capt. Luis Evidente, JBLFMU assistant to the CEO, clarified that MARINA was not the government body that can recommend closure of a tertiary school but the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Evidente explained that EMSA, an agency under the European Union (EU), only checks the manpower deployed to ships of its member countries.
“And there are a lot of Filipino seafarers including the graduates of JBLFMU working for European-flagged ships,” added Evidente, a retired ship captain.
Dr. Mary Lou Lacson Arcelo, JBLFMU chair of the board, added that audits from EMSA only means that the country’s maritime schools including JBLFMU can provide competent manpower for European-flagged ships.
Meanwhile, Sebastian assured that JBLFMU is open to any audit. JBLFMU has three campuses, the two of which are in Iloilo City. There’s another campus in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.