Icing for Action: STAKEHOLDERS AGITATED OVER MARINA
By Ligaya Caban
The papogi (brownie points) of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has been quite obvious lately, cranking ream of press releases but strictly controlling press attendance in its events. Seems some are favoured, those swallowing the spoon-feeding.
Stakeholders are forced to control rage, pragmatic to the pangs of the Agency when crossed. Thus, Marino World cannot name names nor quote quotes. Yet, we shall express the thoughts and reasons with the classic journalistic cover, “according to reliable sources … “
There are more rumblings than the EMSA audit, than the IMO White List; similarly, looking at reforms on basis of increasing remittances and not on upgrading education and values.
There is also the underpinning of colonialism: the powerful must manage with unquestioned authority; regulatory agencies regulate, underlings just follow!
So much are in question, essentially feeble and late action over a cornucopia of circulars and memos with some conflicting over the other. The net result is that we are accultured to our weaknesses rather than roadshow our strengths. We are conditioned complicating the simple is brilliant management.
And so much in bunching into topical concerns. All are interrelated that looking only at parts may fall into the fallacy of seeing the trees but not the forest. We are willing to be accused of hodge-podge journalism if only to express important views.
For the first time, teaching and training institutions are considering legal challenge on impositions over those required by STCW, simply more Popish than the Pope.
On top, there are wishy-washy requirements: get this, purchase that, to enable you to qualify and offer those. But before the ink dries, there are reversal and changes. Limited capital are sunk in whimsical Capex or Opex, diversions no longer for return-on-investment (RoI) but business survival itself.
A consultant with the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) is openly criticizing MARINA of issuing questionable advisories and with penal clauses. Stakeholders are agitated they are not listened to; al contra, just bleaching powder to whitewash agency shortfalls.
Legal maneuvers are crippling good intentions. A kindred judge comments a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) hold things, the subsequent Preliminary Injunction (PI) freezes all actions.
The irony, stakeholders warns a TRO on STCW Advisory No. 2019-05, then “Clarifications and Supplemental Guidelines on the Implementation of STCW Circular No. 2018-02 Entitled “Standards for Mandatory Training Courses under the STCW Convention, 1978, As Amended”, April 11, 2019.
MARINA asserts Advisory 2019-05 is from a series of collaborative meetings, workshops, and activities between the agency, subject matter experts (SMEs), maritime education and training stakeholders.
There are 54 STCW mandatory training courses: 32 are full courses and 22 are refresher courses. Out of these mandatory courses, MARINA issued the minimum training standards for 23 courses under such advisory.
Standards for the 31 remaining courses are being developed by the Maritime Education and Training Standards Supervisors (METSS) and the Research and Development Division (RDD) of the MARINA-STCW Office, assisted by SMEs of the industry.
Completion is targeted by the end of 2019. Details on STCW Advisory No. 2019-05 can be downloaded at MARINA - STCW Office website, www.stcw.marina.gov.ph.
An expert spoke in London to a Dutch on issuance of COP on advanced tanker courses. There is a threat from the Norwegian Maritime Directorate it will not accept OIC Filipinos because the COPs are not validated. The expert says MARINA should have asked active merchant marine officers to know: first, that it is standard practice, (2) all officers have advanced tanker courses and with COP as Part B of the STCW Code and in the regulations.
In spite of all appeals, MARINA sticks to its grounds, biding time, ignoring emails, appointments, insistent visits. Of course, there are “valid” reasons to justify why even if these cause job loss to Filipino seafarers.
ETO has a first batch of 150 applicants, 12 only passed; of the second batch of 270 applicants, only 12 again were decided. Actually, only six were finalized of the 12 for medical exams.
Technicalities are like bear traps against efficient processing. This is so frustrating given those cadets come from industrial plants, with experience in Cebu shipyards. Some are already supervisors, professors, board topnotchers. Even if principals want them to be regular ETOs, lack of COCs bar the hiring.
And there are no assessment centers! An agency president complains they have 18 ETOs for assessment, four are complete but un-acted because there are no guidelines, no facilities.
A major stakeholder seeks reforms in (a) Ship Board Training (SBT) requirements; (b) Closing programs, careful when BSMT and BSMaRE are closed, so would the school be; (c) lack of qualified deans, department heads, instructors and facilities.
MARINA imposes carrying capacity but not mandatory for domestic ships to board cadets; in turn, itself hurting with its own problems unresolved.
An association president is more in-your-face: MARINA actually does something outside of what is written. They don’t follow what is written. And then they make up findings which actually detrimental to many of their members.
MARINA with EO 63 wants itself to inspect the schools, then backs out. CHEd picks on the lull with its own findings, mostly not signed by stakeholders, “magic” included.
From Bohol, a stakeholder is baffled why MARINA reviews those who already passed MARINA edicts. Is this done in programs for engineers, doctors, etc.? And why insist on shipboard employment not required by the STCW?
Schools are reeling from enrolment loss due to the K12 Program transition. Imposing a carrying capacity is clipping more the survival plights of maritime schools. The across-the-board approach of MARINA does not consider differences that some schools may take the brunt, others will suffer, as some will collapse.
MARINA should collect data of passers like the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), for analysis on carrying capacity, qualifications to meet standards, fees justified, service record.
The Phil Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), a private accrediting agency, may be a great partner in giving formal recognition to an educational institution by attesting its academic program maintains excellent standards in operations, context of objectives.
MARINA encourages training ships for schools. But there only two categories to register ships: passenger or cargo. The M/V JBL was registered as “Passenger Vessel Miscellaneous (Training Ship).”
A CEO and ship captain explains a training ship is not for profit but for “maritime education, industry in general.” An expert believes in a multi-facet approach: laws, clarity of rules, consultation with stakeholders, stirred well to a balance, then serious implementation.
Anything less is window-dressing, icing instead of action.
A solution is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between One Movement for Maritime Education of the Phil (OMMEP) and Mokpo Natl Maritime University (MNMU) of Korea signed April 15th on board T/S Segero docked at South Harbor, Pier 15, Manila.
MNMU accepts only ten Filipino cadets for training onboard, together with those from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Panama, and Ecuador, a favour as MNMU can only accommodate 30 cadets.
Those accepted pay a minimal fee as other expenses shall be sponsored by government. Filipino cadets must learn the Korean language (vice versa) for learning to be effective.
OMMEP Pres. Galileo Maglasang clarified the programs is not exclusive but may prioritize students from 33 OMMEP member-schools nationwide.
OIC Administrator Vingson trusts two alter egos: Samuel Batalla, OIC-Chief for Certification Division with a World Maritime University (WMU) Master of Science (MSc) Maritime Affairs specializing in Maritime Administration; Jon Rey Calderon, OIC Chief, Research and Development Division, seems to hold a degree in Customs Administration but undergraduate on Marine Transport.
Observers say the two are head-strong, unbending on opposite views. Oppositors are at a weaker plank because they are unable to board when MARINA so deigns. Stakeholders are forced to humor them, as it is risky to confront them.
OIC on OIC.
At the Usapang STCW, May 20, at Midas Hotel (twice postponed from May 9, May 15)
- a regular MARINA activity to update stakeholders and to discuss recommendations to improve our MET system. STCW Advisory No. 2019-05, signed March 29th was presented by RAdm Virme Torralba OIC-STCW Office of the Executive Director and VAdm Narciso Vingson Jr., OIC-Administrator.
A suit was poised to be filed against Torralba for not having any legal appointment. But Torallba is gone; neither could Vingson appoint anybody, himself just an OIC confined to routine administrative functions.
Vingson calls the PAMI 50th as “very historic” for the five decades “trusted and progressive collaboration with maritime industry and 50 years long of sustaining the country’s stance as number one provider of globally competent and skilled seafarers.”
He continues, “May this productive relationship grow stronger as we keep up with the fast-phased changes occurring in our global maritime...now is the best time for us to set sail in one direction and confront the challenges of the increasingly competitive seafaring industry together.
This is what I am asking for specially for the newly-elected PAMI BOT.”