On Administrator Amaro’s watch, MARINA kept secret its card on EMSA. Capt. Ely Diaz, then executive director of MARINA-STCW Office, was “very confident” there is nothing to worry on the series of audits.

On 31 May, 2017, Capt. Diaz was axed, that he is raw coming from the private sector, among other allegations. This is telling because his confidence was off-tangent. On January 2018, the European Commission released its assessment on the EMSA report containing so many shortfalls on Philippine maritime administration.

MARINA earlier down-played the report by instructing a lower functionary (STCW PRO Timothy Vitan) to treat it as a mere press release. But even if insiders were officially mum, most whisper agitations to private stakeholders on the negative impact of EMSA findings.

When smolder dropped from the attic, fire cannot be denied. The private sector created so many fronts of pitched but gnawing battles MARINA was forced to release the official findings of EMSA with predictable lines: MARINA will meet the deadlines, the private sector will reform its rank.

Let the Games begin!



Directorate D-Waterborne of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of EU’s European Commission released the Assessment of Compliance of the maritime education, training and certification system of the Philippines with STCW 1978, as amended.

The STCW Convention is part of EU laws, together with a system of common recognition of non-EU seafarer certificates. Under Regulation 1/10 of the STCW Convention, Member States of EU may recognize certificates issued by non-EU countries but “only further to EU recognition following a technical report of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

That authority to recognize is limited by Article 12 of Directive 2008/106/EC (OJ L 323 of 03 Dec, 2008), as amended by Directive 2012/35/EU (OJL 343 of 14 Dec. 2012), imposing reassessment by EC assisted by EMSA on a regular basis to verify continuous compliance with the STCW Convention.

This reports the fact-finding audit by EMSA between March 13 and 23, 2017, including those from 2006 and 2014 and the evaluation of submissions of Philippine authorities (the latter questionable as stakeholders complain the government lacked consultations with them).



EU is dependent on shipping and we have about 73,000 seafarers on EU flagged vessels. EMSA found 36 critical Non-Compliance and nine observations. Both sides can wave the flag but the economics will prevail over bravado.

Taipeh threatened to ban Filipino sewers unless the Philippines immediately jail the Coast Guards who shot dead Taiwanese poaching on Philippine waters. After the rhetorics, “crime” and “justice” were put aside knowing they need the workers and we, the jobs.

Same realities on the raging Kuwaiti cruelty issue, same “protection” the USA invoke on suspect migrants, yet ready even to kidnap foreign scientists betraying their countries when needed.

Indeed, justice is double-bladed: human rights when not affected, war when offended.



At the January 15th take-over ceremonies of RAdm Elson E. Hermogino of the Coast Guard, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade says the incoming MARINA head has been picked but yet unannounced. Meaning, MARINA is allowed headless (like Vidal on Operations gone) and hold-overs (like Ban-eg on STCW) virtually at the strings of “knowledgeable” insiders.

As late as February 9 and 10, at the Association of Maritime Institutions (PAMI) 43rd Annual Convention and General Assembly in Bohol, Maritime U/Sec Felipe A. Judan waxed words on cooperation rather than compulsion on the EMSA solution.

“I am open to suggestions, I’m open to listen. I’m open to do actions together with the private sector,” claiming he comes from the private sector and knows the implications; that his heart is open for dialogue (applause!).


CHEd speaks.

At the same convention, Dr. Amelia A. Biglete, CHEd Director IV, Programs and Standards Development, presented a deeper look with stats.

For small country, we have too many HEIs; maritime is just 1% of all programs but very important for we are a major world supplier of seafarers; in turn, sending big remittances. Hence, all the stakeholders help improve maritime higher education institutions (MHEIs).

Biglete flashes the numbers on MHEIs:

1988 (before CHEd), 57; 1991-1994, 120; 2001, 73.

(CHEd was established in 1995 and closed sub-standard schools under threat the Philippines may be excluded from the Whitelist of IMO)

By 2002, 76; 2013-2014, 91; 2015, 91; 2017, 77. As of March 7, 2017, 55 with 10 on appeal; the latest in 2018, 65.



In 2015, on Joint MARINA and CHEd effort, MHEIs were 91 qualified to first level. In 2017, the policy was abandoned as being too rigid, reduced MHEIs to 77; 55 by March 7, 2017 and 65 now since the 10 were successful in their appeals.

Earlier in 2014, CHEd issued a moratorium in opening new MHEIs. Last year it was lifted through CMO 71 Series 2017 and 40 applied to offer degree courses (BSMT or BSMarE) with six others posting letters of intent backed by voluminous documentations that must be shifted.


Systemic flaw.

Of all disciplines in higher education, only maritime has the most number of policies, standards and guidelines (PSGs).) This results from a system flaw: EMSA keeps auditing and auditing, CHEd must follow suit with aligning and aligning.

Sacrificed is the continuity of formulating and developing, of internal assessment to pursue independent paths to reforms. But Government whips CHEd to cater to EMSA pushing CHEd to just survival mode, squeezed between the proverbial “darn if you do, damn if you don’t.”



MARINA’s Atty. Ban-eg opens 2018 with inquiries on where are Plans and Programs on MHEIs aligned with  the MARINA STCW Office, perhaps setting why MARINA should cut on CHEd turf.

She asks for the schedule of monitoring, receipt of the GANTT chart, emailed notices on who will come when for what. The whole year, the whole gamut of things-to-do.

Ban-eg says the TPME meeting of Feb 15th could start the process as final approval of CHEd enbanc is a mandate be it monitoring, phase-outs, alternatives. These will be looked into perhaps by March, April and May, opening of classes by June considered.

It’s part of the compliance (or rituals) to the Commission.


Your slip.

OIC Ban-eg may have unwittingly spilled that as of July 2017, they already have the EU-EC EMSA findings on the March 2017 audit. Hence, the Government voluntary corrective action plan (VCAP) given September, 2017 on rushed “consultations” with the stakeholders.

As coup d’grace, Ban-eg issued copies of the 45-page EMSA report for PAMI and PAMTCI members, inviting them to attend the Maritime Education and Training (MET) conference on Feb 22-23 at Midas Hotel, Pasay City, which shall focus on EMSA concerns and deadlines.



The audit is always “voluntary” out of respect on the sovereignty of members but are forced to “agree” due to possible trade and procedural sanctions. However, audits are traditionally “requested” not to leverage nor for trade wars but whenever shortfalls are so obvious and too many risking accidents and dislocations of life, cargo, vessel and the environment.

On January 29, 2018, EC formally transmitted to MARINA the assessment which identified areas “that need attention or further improvement” like national circulars or memoranda, activities of MARINA, education and training institutions — short of brutally saying in all areas!

MARINA insiders constrained to go public say the results of the five audits in 2006, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017 are contained in the 45-page report — finding 36 Non-Compliance (NC or critical shortfalls) and nine Observations (areas to improve).

Stripped of the legalese, only 15% are actual and accepted as corrected.



EC gave MARINA dates to move:

  • 30 April 2018 – measures done, or intended, to areas mentioned
  • 31 October 2018 – evidence of implementation
  • 31 October 2019 – evidence support Information Technology (IT) systems have been developed

In turn, MARINA claims:

  • Circulated EC assessment to stakeholders
  • Created Task Force to address EC concerns
  • Coordinated meetings with MARINA-STCW Advisory Council and agencies

In short, seafarers and stakeholders are biting fingers — much as the grave anxiety of parents of over 80,000 pupils massively inoculated with a vaccine highly suspected of fatal effect.

The 2017 inspection included visits to MARINA, CHEd and three maritime education and training (METs) namely, Malayan Colleges-Laguna, University of Cebu and Far East Maritime Foundation-Cebu.



Shortfalls were identified on the activities of MARINA and CHEd, specifically on programme and course design, review and approval, qualification and training of assessors, instructors and supervisors, and revalidation. There were also shortfalls in the  requirements  for  certification, inspection activities of in relation to the quality management system, programme and course approval, the monitoring and evaluation of training and assessment, the assessment of competence, on-board training, certification and revalidation.

For the three METs audited, there were shortfalls on the quality management system, programme and course design, review and approval, the training facilities, the monitoring and supervision of training, the use of simulators, and examination.



Assessment was not possible to establish whether the corrective measures fully address the identified shortcomings as there are no supporting evidence enclosed to verify or clarify measures taken.

Thus, the Philippines must inform EC by 30 April 2018, on measures intended and/or in place supported by factual evidence like revised legislation, guidelines, procedures, updated curricula, programme outlines, copies of certificates, invoices from purchase of new equipment, photos of training and new equipment, statistical information.

In case the measures have not formally been adopted by the date of submission of documentation, then a concrete timetable for their adoption should be included in the documentation.



Atty. Ban-eg announces a Task Force (again!) to coordinate the promos, proposals and projects. The core is education and assessment, the lead are MARINA, CHEd, DEPEd and stakeholders. First bang is the MET conference on Feb. 22 and 23 at Pasay City.

She explains the Philippines is not blacklisted, but not out of the woods; an echo of U/Sec Judan’s quip of “not bad, just not good.” That the more important thing is the MSC 100 in IMO comes December, the basis of whitelisting. This is why EMSA deadlines are by October to give time for the IMO assessment.

“But we don’t have a monopoly on how to address this. We badly need your help,” assuring a new candor that stakeholders “will receive a full report before we submit that to the EC.”

Full alarms are on including the DFA, Office of the President, DOTr, STCW Advisory Council, MHEIs to compose a viable matrix of reforms.

Not much to speculate on what but to focus on how. The EC is very specific on things to do with timelines. Only our mañana habit (procrastination) could be the critical challenge.