Another review set for December as PH aims to stay in IMO 'white list'

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 17) — International experts will visit the Philippines next month to check on efforts to improve the maritime industry.

This comes ahead of a 2023 meeting which will determine whether the country remains in the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) so-called "white list" of countries compliant with the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for seafarers.

During Thursday's hearing of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) officer-in-charge Executive Director Samuel Batalla said the agency will submit a report this month on the actions taken by the government to address the findings during the previous initial evaluation conducted by international experts.

The experts initially found 15 "non-conformities" and 63 observations in six key areas of inspection. Among the areas the Philippines needed to work on were the implementation of the 2010 Manila amendments and subsequent amendments; implementation of education, training and assessment standards; and quality standards systems and implementation.

"That [report] will be the basis of the independent evaluators sa kanilang (in their) independent evaluation na gagawin nitong (to be conducted this) December," Batalla said.

"The Philippines is still in the STCW-compliant countries," he added. "However, we must successfully pass itong (this) independent evaluation to strengthen our compliant status."

After the second round of evaluation, Batalla said the Philippines will submit its report to the IMO Secretary General in February 2023.

Next June, he said the IMO Maritime Safety Committee will meet to decide whether the country will remain in the "white list."

Despite the country's inability to pass the European Maritime Safety Agency's audit for more than a decade, Batalla clarified that the qualifications of Filipino seafarers are still recognized in European vessels.

He, however, said failure to comply with the IMO's independent evaluation could adversely impact the employment of 600,000 Filipino seafarers with certificates.

Philippine-flagged ships may also be subjected to stringent port state inspections if the country is removed from the "white list."