“ NO one in the maritime industry has the monopoly of knowledge; therefore, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) must be obliged to collate the recommendations and optimistic ideas from the industry’s stakeholders in redeeming the glory of the maritime industry.”

For years, it’s been alleged that MARINA was obviously run by some incompetent personalities. The said office was bombarded by protest rallies by seafarer unions, inquisitive of MARINA’s ‘misaligned decisions and weak leadership’.

Engr. Nelson Ramirez, a seasoned seafarer, said that over the years, the maritime industry has been neglected. Maritime stakeholders were not consulted on how they could help or what to be altered in the present structure of MARINA, which he said compromises the rotting system and state of the maritime industry.

“Kailanman, hindi ginawa ang consultation sa mga maritime industry stakeholders. They are the experts and are involved in running the industry in a day to day basis. And for that reason alone, it may somehow solve the problem. Pero hindi ginawa yan ng dating administrations ng MARINA,” Ramirez said.

He also stressed that during the tenure of then MARINA Administrator Maximo Mejia, his group, the United Filipino Seafarers (UFS), has been staging pickets and slammed the MARINA administration and the board due to their disgust and worries over the lack of foresight of MARINA to confront problems and provide solutions because of such incompetence, which may lead to loss of jobs for seafarers.

“The present administration revealed that indeed, there are glitches in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law which mandates MARINA to implement and enforce the 1978 International Convention of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers. Imagine sa kanila na nanggaling na palpak ang mga naunang administrasyon. Kaya dapat nang i-overhaul yan. Now is the perfect time and CHANGE must really come,” Ramirez said.

Then came the move to reorganize some of the provisions of the questionable Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 10635, or the Act establishing MARINA as the Single Maritime Administration Responsible for the Implementation and Enforcement of the 1978 International Convention of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, which governs seafarers worldwide.

The clamor to tweak the IRR of RA 10635 aroused when MARINA started its monthly Usapang STCW Forum, which kicked off in August this year, or weeks after when MARINA-STCW Deputy Director Atty. Vera Joy Ban-eg assumed her post.

Usapang STCW is a venue for all inquiries, clarification and enlightenment regarding MARINA’s direction towards a stronger maritime nation. Its primary goal is to address the problems hounding the industry, and including summations on mid-term and long-term goals for the maritime industry, with the help of the maritime stakeholders such as Manning Agencies, Training Centers, Shipowners, Seafarer Unions, among others.

Atty. Ban-eg, contemplating on some advice from top stakeholders of the maritime industry during the STCW forums, right away scouted and convened personalities that will comprise the Advisory Council that will restructure and formulate the draft of the skewed IRR.

The advisory council comprises of the following: one from the association of Manning Agencies; one from the academe or an education association; one from the Association of Maritime Training Centers; two from Professional organizations (Deck and Engine); one from known Seafarer Unions; two from Shipowners (inter-island and international trade); one from the fishing sector; and one from the Philippine Navy or Philippine Coast Guard.

But the final list of the proposed Advisory Council has not yet been revealed, as of this writing, though they have tapped initially the following to comprise the technical working group from the private sector namely Capt. Victor S. Del Prado – Manning Agency; Capt. Michael H. Sarthou, Jr – Academe; Mr. Mario S. Ondrade – Marine Deck Officers; Chief Engr. Pablo G. Bautista – Marine Engine Officers and Mr. Abdon V. Soriano – Seafarer Ratings.

During a consultation with some of the members of the Advisory Council last November 17, 2017 at the MARINA office, Atty. Ban-eg bared that even the STCW office that she is managing is not included in the structure of the Department of Budget Management.

She revealed that right now as STCW Deputy Director, she is reporting directly to the Office of the Executive Director and to MARINA Administrator Marcial ‘Al’ Amaro, with very limited personnel and only receiving a salary grade 26.

“The STCW is not included in the structure of the Department of Budget and Management. So it is not easy for us to request budget from the DBM and hire more personnel with plantilla position. I am managing 17 divisions. Right now we are undermanned. So we will include in the draft of the revised IRR to be recognized as a separate office,” Ban-eg said.

Under the present IRR, Atty. Ban-eg is tasked to direct and supervise the activities of all the divisions under the STCW office; act on behalf of the Executive Director on all STCW concerns; ensure that all certificates of competence and endorsements are issued in accordance with Regulation I/2 of STCW, and that a unique number is assigned to each; and assist in formulating strict quality assurance mechanisms and relevant typology of maritime education and training programs of MHEIs and MTIs and other STCW-related institutions.

In her proposal for the STCW Structure, the new STCW office will be named ‘Deputy Administrator for Manpower and STCW.’ It shall have seven directors respectively as follows: Research and Development; Certification; Assessment; Education and Training, and three more departments.

Atty. Ban-eg is very positive that with the help of the industry ‘Think Tanks’, the IRR will have its smooth sailing if not today but in the future.

Also during the consultation, the advisory council tackled issues in the Publication of Test Questions versus the Publication of the Syllabi of Examinations; the move for Training First before Assessment; Yearly replenishment of Test Questionnaires; and the Standardization of the Average for the Competency Examinations wherein the passing rate is proposed to be 70 percent in all competencies.

And when asked when will the final draft be of the IRR to come out, she said that they are polishing the draft this December and will soon be submitted to the MARINA Board for scrutiny by January 2018.

The revision of the IRR is part of the STCW projects for 2017, besides the Formulation of Maritime Industry Development Program; Standardization of MARINA Approved Training Programs; Devolution of STCW Functions and Certification and Examination in Cebu and Davao; Audit of Medical Facilities together with the Department of Health; Activation of the MARINA Advisory Council; Continuing Capacity Building and the Development of the IMO Model Courses.

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