MANILA, PHILIPPINES – In line with the continued promotion of ease of doing business, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has boosted its services related to the processing and issuance of seafarer certificates through the development of the MARINA e-Certification System.

With the new certification system, the MARINA has integrated the core processes of its Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Office that involve the development of standard Maritime Education and Training (MET) Program; issuance of authority to operate among MARINA-recognized maritime education and training institutions; assessment of competence of aspiring seafarers; and certification of qualified seafarers in accordance with the requirements of the STCW Convention.

MARINA STCW Office core processes

To ensure the Philippines’ continued production of world-class and globally competent seafarers, the MARINA STCW Office is implementing a comprehensive quality management system which is supported by national laws and the STCW Convention as the doctrinal input. The core processes of the Office are divided into three stages – preparation, implementation and evaluation, and are reinforced through the MARINA e-Certification System.

The preparation stage involves the development of standard MET program wherein the maritime education program is crafted in partnership with the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy as the national maritime institution; while the maritime training course packages are developed by the MARINA with inputs from various technical experts. This program sets the minimum standards for the education and training of aspiring seafarers to be implemented by all MARINA-recognized maritime education and training institutions.

For the implementation of the standard MET program, the MARINA has developed the Surveillance, Accreditation and Monitoring-Information System (SAM-IS) in order to guarantee that only MARINA-recognized or accredited institutions are issued authority to operate the said program.

And for the evaluation stage, the MARINA’s functions relating to the assessment of competence are augmented with the development of the QBank System and the MARINA Competency Assessment System or MCAS. The QBank System tracks and documents the cradle-to-grave cycle of theoretical examination questions. It is being complemented by MCAS, used both for the conduct of the actual theoretical examination and for the pilot testing and generation of item analysis.

Finally, Filipino seafarers who are considered world-class and competent are certificated through the MARINA Integrated Seafarers’ Management Online System, or more popularly known as MISMO – a digital platform which downloaded the STCW-related certification processes of the MARINA to all of its offices nationwide. With the rolling out of MISMO, the MARINA is able to process 3,500 applications on a daily average, while only 1,200 were used to process before.

In sum, the SAM-IS, QBANK, MCAS and MISMO compose the MARINA e-Certification System, wherein seafarer-related information shall also be provided by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Health (DOH), medical clinics, maritime education and training institutions, and assessment centers.

As a way forward, the MARINA is currently establishing additional IT security measures for the new certification system through the so-called “blockchain” technology. Aside from ensuring safe storage and processing of seafarer records and STCW-related certificates, this technology will enable the Philippines to adapt to the use of electronic certificates in compliance with international guidelines.

Upon the full implementation of the MARINA e-Certification System, the MARINA is also aiming for the enabling of online delivery of seafarers’ STCW certificates.

Compliance to audit findings

With the development of the MARINA e-Certification system, the Authority also boosted its document management system which is a part of the country’s compliance to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit.

The report on the enhanced IT support system of the MARINA was the last required by European Commission and was submitted last October 2019. This last report, along with the first two reports submitted last April and October 2018, will be verified by the EMSA when they conduct their last audit in the Philippines on February to March 2020.

MARINA OIC Vice Admiral Narciso A Vingson Jr emphasized that the new certification system shall ensure the integrity of MARINA-issued STCW certificates and the provision of faster and more secured services to Filipino seafarers.

“What we want is for our seafarers to maximize their time and hard-earned money for their families. Before, they have to endure the long lines at the MARINA Central Office, without the assurance of getting their certificates on the same day. With the MARINA e-Certification System, they can now process and receive their certificates on their most convenient time, date and place, far from fixers and illegal activities,” Vice Admiral Vingson said.

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