EC axe may fall April 30: GO, JOHNNY, GO! GO!

As of our press time, the Board of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) fast tracts the evaluation of the draft of the country’s submission to the European Commission (EC) on or before April 30, a deadline conditional to the grant of extension to the Philippines.

MARINA has to act without an incumbent Administrator and lack of senior operational officials. However, there is now an Under-Secretary for the maritime and an Executive Secretary gleaning issues from the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) he chairs.

The April 30, 2018, Philippine report must contain “measures done, or intended, to areas mentioned.” The next deadline is October 31st, for submission of “evidence of implementation.”

A year after (31 October 2019) the Philippines must show “evidence support Information Technology (IT) systems have been developed.”

The MARINA Board includes the Transport Secretary, Ports Authority, Coast Guard, Office of the President, Dept. of Trade and Industry and Development Bank of the Phils, with private sector representatives.



Atty. Joy Vera Ban-eg, MARINA STCW-OIC Executive Director and Deputy Director claims, “We will definitely beat the submission,” as she shows April 19th to Marino World more than a hundred of documents, including  annexes for the board meeting.

She confirms the Board with the STCW Advisory Council (SAC) will meet again on April 23 and submit the report April 27.

There seems to an inherent disconnect: voluminous documents on separate, sensitive issues, mulled over by so many agencies and private sector interests, on barely ten working days.

Fact is, Transport Sec. Arthur Tugade had publicly expressed an order at the Usapang STCW Forum of March 26 at the AMOSUP Convention Hall, to convene April 11th a special MARINA Board meeting to tackle EMSA updates; then, submit by middle of April our report to the EC.

Failing on Tugade’s order, Ban-eg is not even apologetic to the Secretary and still claims MARINA will beat the EC deadline.


Task force.

MARINA created in February a task force in February chaired by Atty. Benedicto G. Manlapaz, with vice chair Jonrey M. Calderon and MARINA employees Herbert V. Nalupa, Madiline Joanna F. Galve, Junnard Hababag, Luisito Delos Santos.

They are joined by Per-Arne Waloen, Norwegian Maritime Authority Advisor to MARINA and of two from the secretariat, Maryland V. De Castro and Maria Isabel Anne D. Javier.

The EC Task Group shall work fulltime on:

  1. List EC’s assessment and things of RP, one by one, timeframe for completion;
  2. Analyze each of the assessment and the specific issues/problems raised;
  3. Check STCW mandates on each issue/problem identified;
  4. Determine the roots of each;
  5. Recommend measures to address these;
  6. Check if the existing STCW Office (STCWO) Quality Management System (QMS) would sufficiently cover the implementation of proposed actions; or recommend amendments;
  7. Submit the result of Items 1 to 6 for review by heads of STCWO or other agencies and then an endorsement from the Administrator; and
  8. Review all audits on implementation of measures taken for effectiveness and recommend doable adjustments, among other things.



On top, members of the STCW Advisory Council (SAC) reviewed the report and gave inputs:

  • Capt. Constantino  Arcellana – Owners rep., TSM/Norden
  • Capt. Emerico B. Gepilano – VP, CREST Assessment, Review & Training Center
  • Capt. Ronald Enrile, ANGKLA PartyList Vice Chairman
  • Capt. Victor Del Prado, Pres., Society of Filipino Ship Captains
  • Capt. Jess Morales, Pres., Integrated Seafarers of the Phils
  • Engr. Sammuel Lim, Chair, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
  • Capt. Hernando Eusebio, Pres., Trans Star Shipping Agency
  • Mr. Emmanuel De Vera, GM, Wilhelmsen Shipmanagement
  • Atty. Dolly Ohdate- Pres., Asiana Ship Management

Arcellana, Del Prado and Lim gathered March 9th other stakeholders at the Century Park Hotel, at the initiative of the Society of Filipino Ship Captains and Masters and Mates Association of the Phils which discussions led to a common position on assessment and shipboard training.

Capt. Arcellana believes almost all suggestions were accepted by MARINA, just corrected to form. He expects a MARINA issuance for dissemination to seafarers.

A SAC member thinks EMSA requirements are “doable”; just need concerted efforts by MARINA, CHEd, schools and training centers. He wants focus on issues raised by EMSA; tackle later revisions of RA 10635 and IRR thereto.

C/E Alfredo Haboc, CHED consultant, wishes joint circular by MARINA and CHEd on monitoring, sensitively on CMO 67 and 70. While he wishes these to be institutionalized, Haboc warns on over-reacting on just basics being asked.



The subject “report” or “submission” (dependent on one’s sensitivity to sovereignty) is in response to the Assessment of Compliance of the maritime education, training and certification system of the Philippines with STCW 1978, as amended, released by the Directorate D-Waterborne of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Union (EU) European Commission.

Such reassessment is based on EMSA fact-finding “audits,” the latest between 13 and 23 March 2017, and earlier in 2006 and 2014 (and Philippine submissions thereat).

It appears the country has shortcomings on the STCW system, so are MARINA, CHEd and maritime education and training (MET) institutions, the latter on programme and course design, review and approval, qualification and training of assessors, instructors and supervisors, and revalidation.

There are shortfalls on certification, management system, programme and course approval, the monitoring and evaluation of training and assessment, the assessment of competence, on-board training, certification, facilities (prominently simulators).



The April report is also a follow-up of the Voluntary Corrective Action Plan (VCAP) submitted by MARINA last September 8, 2017, indicating measures taken or planned to address the issues identified in the 2017 EMSA inspection report.

In pragmatic terms, EC has made it easier for the Phil by exactly identifying where corrective measures should be done. The problem is, the VCAP has not pinpointed things done, things planned and proof thereof.

Hence, EC gave by 30 April 2018 as deadline on measures in place or intended to fully address the issues raised in this assessment supported by factual evidence.

This evidence may include 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 or whatever documentation deemed appropriate. For measures not yet formally adopted, a concrete timetable for their adoption should be included in the documentation.



MARINA sent copies of the EC document to stakeholders like associations, schools, training centers, manning agencies, professional groups, subject matter experts to elicit comments.

A Maritime Education and Training Conference, spearheaded by the MARINA in partnership with the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU), was held February 22-23, Midas Hotel, Pasay City.

IAMU is the network of leading maritime universities providing education and training (MET) of seafarers for the global shipping industry. There are two members in the country: the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific and the John B Lacson Foundation Maritime University.


IAMU views.

Johan Eliasson, Ljungklinnt lecturer and head of Marine Engineering Program, Chalmers University of Technology, says, “It’s always good to see what other people do and try to share what you do (that are) good. Because if we don’t talk to each other we wouldn’t have better shipping industry in general…I think it’s important that you show EMSA that you invite people with other skills to help and develop.”

Jan Askholm, VP for Academics-Svendborg Intl Maritime Academy –Curricula Development, adds, “We need more Filipino seafarers because we cannot supply all of those seafarers needed from the Danish maritime education system, we’re just too small, so I have interest also in improving the education of Filipino seafarers.”

The two are among presenters at the MET February conference followed by MARINA’s  Usapang STCW Forum, March 26, AMOSUP Convention Hall, Intramuros, Manila.

Hundreds of representatives from maritime education and training, manning and shipping agencies, organizations attended and actively participated in the two events.

Attendees at the MET Conference signed a manifesto of commitment for the improvement of the country’s maritime education and training.

At the Usapang STCW, stakeholders reiterated action from MARINA on unsettled issues on shipboard training, tonnage of vessels in the domestic, the likes.

Ban-eg was condescending: “Good news, the board made instructions for MARINA to come up with an action plan for the re-measurement” for vessels in the domestic flag.

She even kneaded MARINA is not a GOCC which could keep earnings; it can only keep some 15-million it collects on tonnage fees. But this admits MARINA has full control on tonnage and inside scalawags are on impunity to fester.



MARINA’s shortfall on action is whitewashed by self-praises on the social digital media, prominently, the FaceBook.  Last February 28th, it posted a “MUST READ FOR ALL SEAFARERS” in lyrical Tagalog, saying:

  • If we help each other, we can reform education, training and assessment for “the national interest”;
  • MARINA seeks understanding, welcomes suggestions to undertake tasks in so many Conventions and laws, in spite shortage on staff;
  • But born seafarers, we shall overcome!


Burr the blur.

Ban-eg closing remarks at MET uses a questionable historical assertion that Enrique, wanderlust slave, is a Filipino and the first to circumnavigate the world. Historians smile wryly as even if true, there was no Filipino nation by then on these islands crossed by local tribes, Chinese traders, Muslim missionaries, wards and warriors of the Madjapahit and Shri-Visayan empires.

Yet Ban-eg hops and insists, “We were confident of our press release regarding the EMSA findings that we will be able to comply. Why? Because again Filipinos will not give up because in our blood, in our vein runs the blood of a seafarer and we will stand by it. I think this is just a matter of aligning things.

The good news is the Office of the President is more open and receptive regarding the industry. So let’s help together. Don’t you worry and we assure you any action that will be taken is for the welfare, for the benefit of the industry…”