The Mariners’ Association for Regional and International Networking Organization (MARINO) graced with their presence the very first International Seafarer Family Convention (ISFC) 2011 held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on August 4 and 5.
The First ISFC, which also featured an exhibit by numerous manning agencies, seafarers’ organizations, among others, had the theme, “The Bonds of Families, the Success of the World.”
Some of the issues that were tackled in the convention, as articulated primarily by DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz in behalf of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, include the possible ratification of the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006, additional scholarship grants for seafarers’ kin, the Philippines’ status as the “crewing capital of the world”, inclusion of family members in the pre-departure orientation sessions for seafarers, empowering women and seafarers’ wives, piracy response, HIV-AIDS, and issues confronting the youth.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Trust played an instrumental role in the success of the event. The Trust helped bring some 11 families from partner organizations in Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Earlier this year, MARINO President Milton Unso called for the regulation of the Commission on Higher Education of maritime courses in the country to prevent students from adding to the pool of surplus graduates of maritime programs despite hearing positive remarks from various VIPs including the President. In separate statements, Secretary Baldoz said that the Philippines has been added again to the International Maritime Organization White List, which means that the country is compliant to the Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping Convention of 1995. Nevertheless, Baldoz admitted that CHEd still has to close down several training centers and academies that offer marine-related courses to respond to MARINO’s concerns regarding the oversupply of maritime graduates and poor quality of education. Reports have it that at least three schools were shut down already in the National Capital Region alone but this still has to be verified with the commission.
In the coming months, Unso said that MARINO will closely monitor the ratification of the Maritime Labor Convention and Seafarers\’ Identity Documents Convention (C185), implementation of management level courses required under SCTW guidelines, social protection programs for seafarers and their dependents and actions taken by CHED on noncompliant maritime academies.