Solon assures EU envoy to PH of Congress’s support to help improve Pinoy seafarers’ training

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A SOLON from Bicol reassures the European Union (EU) envoy to the Philippines of the full support of Congress to help improve the training standards for Pinoy seafarers since 50,000 Pinoy seafarers could lose eligibility for EU jobs if November safety audit findings become “too adverse.”

This was the gist of a letter sent by House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) to the EU ambassador to the Philippines, Luc Veron, as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is set to undertake an audit of the country’s compliance with international training standards by November this year.

Europe-hired Pinoy seafarers are some of our highest earners. They account for some 50,000 very well-paid jobs. And we could lose a big number of those jobs if we fail the EMSA audit once again this November,” Salceda warned in his letter.

Earlier this week, the Department of Migrant Workers announced that it had been mandated by President Marcos, along with other agencies to ensure that the country complies with findings of the EMSA.

In view of the EMSA audit for compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) this November, and in view of the urgency of keeping logistics secure during this turbulent period for the global economy, please be reassured of my full support for any initiative you may forward on the subject,” Salceda wrote.

Being a senior member of the Congressional leadership team, Salceda, the House tax panel chair who is also a senior member of other major committees, including the House trade and industry committee, expressed his interest in working with the EU delegation to the Philippines to forward the interests of both Filipino seafarers and European shipping and logistics on areas such as Filipino seafarer training.

I understand that the findings of the EMSA over the past years put at risk the eligibility for employment of some 50,000 Filipino seafarers, many of whom are my constituents,” Salceda added.

Salceda also offered to boost local efforts of the EU delegation to help Philippine maritime schools improve training.

He also offered his district office’s interest in working with the European delegation to help improve the training capabilities of maritime schools in Albay province, which Salceda represents.

Salceda noted that over the past few months, the European marine industry has relied heavily on Filipino seafarers, who are culturally predisposed towards the West. However, he emphasized the need to boost training and take serious heed of the concerns of EMSA, where he lamented that the country has been failing their audits for at least 16 years already.

Salceda said that keeping the EU-hired seafaring jobs is critical as the country protects its foreign currency reserves and seeks to recover from what he calls “a fluid domestic jobs situation.”

While the EU is unlikely to ban Pinoy seafarers from their flagged ships, some companies are doubtless going to take seriously the EMSA findings this year. And if the findings are too adverse, some of them might hesitate if not avoid hiring Filipinos. That will surely hurt jobs in the sector.”

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