Press Release
May 1, 2008

Jinggoy opens hearing on seafarers' MLC review plea

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada started hearing on controversial Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) resolution making Management Level Course (MLC) mandatory for seafarers before qualifying for employment as marine officers.

Resolution dated December 11, 2007 came under fire when various seafarers' organizations claim that such course would only duplicate the four- or five-year training they had in getting their bachelor's degree, aside from being an added financial burden for them.

United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) with 35,000 members says that PRC had only listened to strong lobby of private training centers who stand to gain from this imposition.

A six- to eight-week training will cost around 42,000 (for marine deck officers) to 52,000 pesos (for marine engine officers).

Integrated Marine Deck Officers and Engineers Association (IMDOEA), PMI Alumni Association, Crewing Manager Association of the Philippines, Visayan Maritime Academy Alumni Association and Seaman's Party are also taking up arms against new MLC requirement.

Capt. Lamberto Torres (IMDOEA) for instance, laments that PRC and Maritime Training Council is giving more weight on theoretical training rather than on in-service experience as barometer of competency.

He also raised the fact that instructors in the said training are "lower-ranking officers and some have no practical knowledge of what they are teaching."

PRC, on the other hand in it defense, stated that MLS is a requirement of 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) as amended, to which the Philippines is a signatory.

PRC adds that Philippines was included in Internal Maritime Organization (IMO) "white list" of complying countries, after RP annexed in its report to IMO resolutions containing provisions for completion of an approved education and training as requirements in meeting standards of competence in STCW code.

League of Maritime Educators International, Inc. in a position paper sent to the committee, supports PRC's stand.

"Maritime industry is aware that currently, our maritime schools have no appropriate curriculum or approved education and training program compliant with SCTW; thus, making MLC imperative in order to maintain our niche as largest supplier of shipboard officers and personnel," the paper reads.

"Both parties make valid points. PRC has good intention of bringing our seafarers at par with their foreign counterparts in accordance to international standards. Seafarers, on the other hand, are willing to undergo skills revalidation and rationalized training, i.e. without neglecting their years of experience and shouldering the heavy price tag," said Estrada, chairman of Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, adding;

"It is important to untangle this dilemma, as not only employment and promotion of our seafarers is on the line, but also the renowned Philippines' seafaring reputation given our geography and history."

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) data shows that there are 230,000 deployed Filipino seafarers in 2006.

News Latest News Feed