MOU On Certificate
Recognition Opposed
By Andy Dalisay
Philstar, 02 August 2001

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is opposing the model memorandum of understanding (MOU) proposed to be adopted by another maritime state body with other countries relative to recognition of seafarers certificates.

It has recommended that the MOU signed with the Netherlands and Denmark to serve as the model in negotiating and concluding future agreements in compliance with Regulation 1/10 of the revised Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention (STCW).

Marina deputy administrator Lamberto Pia told Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, who chairs the Maritime Training Council (MTC), to implement the model MOU that Executive Order No. 230 issued in 1985 led Marina's drafting and negotiations of an MOU on the Recognition of Certificates under Regulation 1/10 with the Dutch Maritime Authority.

EO 230, he claimed, "is the foundation and basis by which bilateral maritime agreements had been drafted and negotiated by the Philippines with such countries as France, Cyprus, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark." Scheduled to be negotiated are bilateral maritime agreements with Greece, Panama, Brunei, Germany and Romania.

Pia pointed out that the proposal to adopt a model MOU is "unnecessary," since the only major change stricken out in the proposed MOU is the Marina being the subject in carrying out the verification of the validity of the contents of certificates issued to Filipino seafarers.

The assertion is anchored on Executive Order 242, which designates Marina as a "central repository of information relative to Regulation 1/9 of the STCW Convention, the same presidential order MTC invokes in undertaking the coordinating by the Philippines of Hong Kong certificates.

In his letter to Sto. Tomas, Pia said that Marina expects that maritime authorities of other flag states would approach them for conclusion of a similar MOU, prompting Pia to ask why those maritime countries approach Marina and not the MTC.

"While the STCW Convention is primarily a maritime safety convention where parties thereto commit to deploy STCW-compliant seafarers onboard their flagships, the Philippine implementation of the convention is biased towards labor considerations understandably because of the reservoir of Filipino seafarers available for deployment," said Pia. This has led to the designation of the MTC as the entity responsible for the implementation of the convention in the Philippines.

However, he argued that the arrangement "resulted in a twisted implementation of the Convention where the MTC, designated as responsible for the implementation of the Convention, arrogates upon itself functions which are well within the express mandates of government agencies directly dealing with the maritime industry.

He was referring to the issue of recognizing certificates of seafarers, which Pia insisted was an "inherent function of the Marina as the agency primarily responsible for stipulating the conditions by which seafarers, regardless of nationality, can be allowed to serve onboard Philippine-flagged ships."


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