We are reminded of a put-down on Pres. Joseph Estrada. When allegedly asked to spell “orange”, he asked back, the color or the fruit?

This must be the zen perception of Maritime U/Sec Felipe A. Judan of the Department of Transport (DOTr) on the EMSA issue. The concern rocks the entire maritime industry, government frazzled and frenzied on implications and actual impact.

Not Judan, optimist and cavalier. He believes a negative finding is not bad, just not good.


Yes, axed.

At the January 15, 2018 turn-over of command of the Coast Guard (PCG) to RAdm. Elson E. Hermogino, Marino World had an ambush interview with U/Sec. Judan. He confirmed then the ax has fallen but would not be privy to the replacement. The most he shares is that he will oversee pending public announcement since Pres. Duterte has “already identified together with Secretary Tugade” the new MARINA Administrator.

While possible to take two government posts, he dislikes the practice and takes a jab against former Administrator Len Bautista-Horn (during the Arroyo presidency). He is already giving almost fulltime to the (Transport) Department and his added task on the (MARINA) Agency will challenge too much.



He flatly denies there is leakage on MARINA licensure tests, in spite of mainstream news with police arrests on the matter. U/Sec Judan explains the test questions are banked on the public MARINA website which anyone may study.

There are about 8,000 questions banked and only 20 to 30 are asked per examinee. What question to ask is randomly chosen by the computer — no human intervention. He accuses corrupt MARINA insiders (“mga tarantadong nasa MARINA”) made up stories that questions were peddled to training/review centers, this illegal downloading caught on closed-circuit tv (CCTV).  Judan claims the owners (of the review centers) know they are not the ones who select the questions but the computer.

He seems to endorse the Amaro technique of daily pre-selecting some 20 questions which, when correctly answered, already prove the seafarer is sufficiently qualified. But observers are quick to note this practice puts in human intervention; confirms the “garbage” (redundancies) in the MARINA website as 20 to 30 questions are acceptable from the 8,000 banked.


EMSA update.

Government expects the release by late January or early February of the final audit on Philippine maritime policies and procedures by the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) of the European Union.

Judan claims they have updated the local Joint Manning Group (JMG), a major employer/ recruiter of Filipino seafarers on EU flagged and owned vessels. He insists EMSA is not an audit but “just a compliance check”. This EMSA compliance check is different from the IMO audit, Judan clarifies.

While most maritime stakeholders are amused on the play of words by U/Sec Judan, they accept two of his points, viz:

  • Problems were not sufficiently addressed for over a decade;
  • Jobs will be hugely affected if a negative audit/check is released.


Ply ahead.

U/Sec Judan does not expect a negative appraisal by EMSA. He refuses to comment on Amaro’s termination but gives him a good review. Judan even appears to question if there is really an “Alliance of MARINA Employees” that sought (with Journalist Nelson Ramirez) for a Senate Blue Ribbon investigation on Amaro’s conduct.

President Duterte has continued to publicly whip officials who are tabbed with too many overseas travel on public funds. Amaro is a favorite target, notwithstanding then Administrator Max Mejia logged a lot more in an embarrassing campaign for the IMO Secretary-General post.

Judan has never reversed Amaro, instead assures MARINA’s roadmap is still Amaro’s Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP).

It was launched in Manila 01 June 2017 with much hoopla before 700 stakeholders, expounding a 10-year program on six sectors: manpower development; ship building, repairs and recycling; fishing and leisure; offshore; domestic shipping and international shipping.

Yet to flesh-out workable details, MIDP is the first and only response to Presidential Decree 474 of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, issued 01 June 1974, 43 years back.