Recent news article published in the Philippine Star on 19 September 2022 reported that MARINA Memorandum Circular imposes excessive fines and makes the seafarers as “milking cows”. The Memorandum Circular being referred to is the revised minimum mandatory requirements on the certification of Able Seafarer Deck and Able Seafarer Engine which, contains among others, provisions defining certain acts or omissions and prescribing their corresponding administrative fines and penalties.
It must be emphasized, however, that the penalty provisions of the aforementioned MARINA Memorandum Circular were merely aligned and adopted from existing MARINA Circulars relating to the issuance of Certificates of Competency and Proficiency as approved by MARINA Board in 2021, and not by the new MARINA Administrator.
By way of information, the MARINA Board is the highest policy making body of the Agency which is composed of representatives from various government agencies and the private sectors. It must also be pointed out that the penalty provisions apply not only to seafarers but also to liaison officers, manning agencies/shipping companies, maritime training institutions and assessment centers who have engaged in any act/s of misrepresentation for the purpose of securing Certificates of Proficiency such as giving of false testimonies or falsified documents, or use, submission or presentation of falsified, fraudulent or tampered documents. Copies of MARINA Circular Nos. 2021-03, 2021-04, 2021-05, 2021-06 can be accessed through the link: https://stcw.marina.gov.ph/policies/approved-circulars/.
The imposition of stiffer fines is necessary to deter persons and entities covered by the Circular from committing offenses that would undermine the integrity of certificates issued by the Philippine government and to avoid seafarers from being subjected to detention during port state inspections. Also, these fines are remitted to the country’s treasury and not to MARINA.
On the claim that MARINA Administrator Hernani Fabia failed to sanction the eleven (11) maritime higher educational institutions (MHEIs) found deficient by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), it must be recalled that EMSA had its last mission in the Philippines in March 2020, or more than two (2) years before Administrator Hernani N Fabia assumed his post as Administrator.
The concerned MHEIs have been subjected to regular monitoring by the MARINA and CHED to check the actions they have taken in addressing the EMSA Findings. These MHEIs have undergone follow-up visits by MARINA and CHED to verify their compliance and close out the noted findings.
At a time when access to information is readily available, the MARINA enjoins all seafarers, maritime stakeholders and the general public to be critical and rely only on facts and not on baseless statements. It also calls on peddlers of unverified, erroneous and misleading information to be reminded of their accountability before the law and to the general public as a whole.