Press Release
August 26, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) to heed the call of seafarers groups and maritime manning agencies not to require seamen to undergo a management level course (MLC) to qualify them to be marine officers.

Pimentel said it is unjustified and unfair for seafarers to be compelled to take up an additional course before the issuance of certificate needed for employment even if such course is just a repetition of their bachelor's degree.

"Why should the seafarers be required to take up the management level course, which will entail additional costs and delay their deployment at sea, when this was already part of the curriculum of their four to five year maritime course?" he commented.

The groups that complained about the additional requirement include the Crewing Managers Association of the Philippines, United Filipino Seafarers, Philippine Maritime Institute Alumni Association, Inc. and the Integrated Marine Deck and Engine Officers Association.

"The PRC and the Office of the President should act quickly on the complaint to spare the seafarers from the additional burden, specially in recognition of their valuable contributions in stabilizing the national economy in the form of their remittances of their dollar earnings," Pimentel said.

Those who will take up the MLC course will have to shell out school fees that range from P42,000 for marine deck course to P52,000 for marine engine course which could last for six to eight weeks.

Pimentel said what makes the managements level course even more unconscionable is the claim of the complainants that it is not one of the minimum requirements of the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping Convention (STCW). Neither is the additional course being required by the foreign principals as a condition for employment, the complainants said.

Pimentel said the complaining seafarers groups and manning agencies have a point in suggesting that the management level course, as a way of upgrading seamen's skills, should be made optional, instead of mandatory.

Unless the appropriate and timely action is taken by the authorities on this urgent complaint, Pimentel said he will file a resolution asking the Senate to conduct an investigation into the allegations of the complainants about the "pretensions and hidden agenda of the PRC board for marine officers in making the management level course mandatory."

He cited the perception in the maritime manning industry and among seafarers that the PRC is pushing for the implementation of the MLC program upon the strong lobby of training centers with the PRC board of marine officers.

According to the complainants, these training centers "obviously stand to gain at the expense of our seafarers in making the management level course mandatory with the PRC becoming a willing tool."

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