‘Filipino seafarers not indispensable’

‘Filipino seafarers not indispensable’

Philippine seafarers are not indispensable as excess seamen from other countries are waiting to fill positions that could be left vacant by Filipinos, according to the executive director of the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Without trying to make a safe statement, you know there is not only a worldwide demand but also a surplus of seafarers from other countries as well. I mean we appreciate Filipino seafarers on our vessels, but there are also other nations that need the seafaring job, especially now if you look at what is happening in the Eastern part of Europe, in Ukraine. There are a lot of Ukrainian seafarers currently serving on European vessels and waiting if there is a need to fill the gap," Florian Gottein told the Daily Tribune in a recent interview.

Gottein's statement comes amid concerns of some local manpower agencies on the country's reported failure to comply with the European Maritime Safety Agency's training standards for seafarers.

The Philippines' repeated failure in the EMSA evaluation in the last 16 years threaten to dislocate some 50,000 Filipino seamen currently manning European merchant vessels.

However, Gottein also said maritime authorities in the Philippines are addressing the EMSA deficiencies.

"I think the issue of discrepancies was already resolved, as Philippine regulators have already submitted their ways in rectifying the unconformities found in the (EMSA) audits. Let us just wait for the outcome," Gottein said.

"I think the government of the Philippines already said they will follow the recommendations on improving the environment for the local maritime schools and in educating seafarers," he added.

The Maritime Industry Authority has been vocal in saying that it has already submitted the needed rectification on deficiencies found by European assessors in its recent audit.

Last month, Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista also maintained that the country should not be alarmed by the EMSA findings as the Marina, its attached agency, continuously works on complying with the training standards for Filipino seafarers.

Bautista said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the creation of a body to ensure that the Philippines can comply with the evaluation of EMSA and pass the amended Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention for Seafarers.

The members of the body are composed of the DoTr, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Migrant Workers, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Foreign Affairs and Marina, which are all working together to comply with the directive.

Daily Tribune