February 15, 2020

ALARMING and saddening is the report that 61 out of the 91 maritime schools in the Philippines have been recommended for closure, drawing the ire of seafarers and their millions of dependents.

The report said the 61 schools were recommended for closure for non-compliance with the standards set by the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention.

No less than a sectoral member of the House of Representatives, Sandro Gonzalez of Marino party-list, was shocked and dismayed at the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) report.

The Philippines, acknowledged as one of the world’s major sources of highly-trained mariners is undergoing an audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on its STCW compliance.

Of course, Filipino seafarers are in demand in the world market due to their exceptional skills, honesty, good command of the English language and ability to easily adapt to foreign culture.

Our dependable mariners work aboard ocean-going cargo and passenger vessels, including cruise ships, as skippers, engineers, navigators, electricians, oilers, cooks, waiters and waitresses.

“I am deeply disturbed that this only came to light now, when it was already known we have problems as early as 2006,” lamented Gonzalez, chair of the House committee on transportation.

According to the party-list solon, the problem is something that we need to address to maintain the credibility and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers throughout the world.

Let’s remember that the millions of dollar remittances of our mariners continue to help prop up the Philippine economy.

We share the view of many that there’s that urgent need to improve our maritime schools if we have to retain our good standing as a principal source of world-class seafarers.