(Manila Bulletin dated: 08/01/2011 | 03:29 AM)

MANILA, Philippines — For the third time in this decade, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has retained the Philippines in the global maritime body’s so-called “White List,” the maritime sector’s ‘reference bible’ in seafaring excellence, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced.

“The inclusion of the Philippines in the so-called IMO ‘White List’ reflects its consistent and sustained standing in giving “full and complete effect” to the IMO’s revised Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention, or STCW ’95, as amended,” the labor and employment chief said.

“The White List affirms the capacities and diligence of the Philippines in ensuring the competencies of Filipino seafarers,” she added.

The IMO is the United Nations (UN) specialized agency whose responsibility is focused on the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. It came out with the “White List” through recent circulars issued by the Maritime Safety Committee in May 2011.

Secretary Baldoz said the inclusion of the Philippines in the list also points to the country’s consistent compliance with the STCW Convention ’95, as amended. The STCW ‘95 was amended during the 2010 Manila Conference, otherwise known as the Manila Amendments which will enter into force by 01 January 2012.

The labor chief underscored that with the road ahead now clearly pointing towards the coming into force of the Manila amendments, “our capacity for excellence will be tested to the hilt, and by demand and necessity, we must again do our utmost in order to ensure that the quest for quality of Filipino maritime training institutions and of the overseas Filipino seafarers do not taper, but continue to be sustained and maintained at global benchmarks and cutting-edge levels.”

Meanwhile, DOLE Undersecretary Danilo P. Cruz pointed out that since it was first instituted by the IMO following the coming into force in 1997 of the 1995 amendments to the 1978 STCW, the Philippines had “consistently maintained its inclusion in the ‘White List’ in 2000, 2005, and 2009.”

“Thus, in the year 2011 update of the ‘White List,’ the Philippines has made it to the mark of STCW-compliant countries,” Cruz said after the recent successful conduct of the National Seminar on Familiarization with the Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific. The seminar focused on Philippines’ preparations for the entry into force of the Manila Amendments.

As this developed, Baldoz hailed the election of Mr. Koji Sekimizu of Japan as the new IMO Secretary General. He will begin his tenure on January 1, 2012.

At the same time, she applauded outgoing IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos who had led the IMO in the successful hosting by the Philippines of the International Diplomatic Conference that resulted in the Manila Amendments in 2010.