Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gordon exposes another alleged PRC anomaly

Gordon exposes another alleged PRC anomaly
Seafarers slam new requirementsBy Veronica Uy
Last updated 06:26pm (Mla time) 09/04/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- At least seven organizations have asked the Senate’s help to stop the Professional Regulation Commission from requiring seafarers who want to become marine deck and engine officers take Management Level Courses, Senator Richard Gordon said Tuesday.

In a privileged speech, Gordon took the cudgels for the seafarers and criticized the PRC for overstepping its bounds by imposing the new prerequisites “over and beyond the requirements expressly stated in the law and the international convention.” “[The organizations] allege that previous scandals in PRC Deck Marine examinations, as in the nursing examinations, involved people associated with training and/or review centers that had strong influence on the PRC,” he said.

He was referring to Republic Act 8544 or the Philippine Merchant Marine Officers Act of 1998, which regulates the practice of the merchant marine profession in the country and mandates national compliance with the convention; and the International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) of 1978.

Gordon said the law and the convention have not been amended to include what PRC has required.

The seafarers’ organizations opposed the new PRC requirement on the following grounds:
* the topics covered by the course are already part of the curriculum of maritime schools;* the courses, which are upgrading programs, should be optional;
* the courses, which cost P42,000 for the six-week course for marine deck officers and P52,000 for the eight-week course for marine engineers, are an added financial burden for Filipino seafarers;
* the courses are not needed to comply with the STCW Convention; and
* the courses were pushed by training centers on the PRC Board for Marine Officers.

Following the request of the seafarers’ organizations, Gordon said he would like a review of the new PRC requirement. The organizations also asked that the PRC stop imposing the new regulation pending the outcome of the review.The seven seafarers’ organizations are: Conference of Maritime Manning Agencies, the Crewing Managers Association of the Philippines, the Seaman’s Party Inc., the Pobar Marine Services, the United Filipino Seafarers, the Philippine Maritime Institute Alumni Association Inc., and the Integrated Marine Deck and Engine Officers Association Inc.

The Philippines is known as the manning capital of the world, as it supplies the biggest number of seafarers around the world; 230,000 at any given time.

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