A pledge for improved service to meet seafarers’ demands is not a far cry from raising the bar for next year’s eventualities. The Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Office (STCWO) continues to gear up to full implementation by 2017. This according to STCWO Executive Director Capt. Herminio P. Estaniel Jr as he closes the two-day year-end management assessment meet in the afternoon of 12 December 2015 at the Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel in Subic.
Estaniel recognizes the contribution of everyone in the STCWO and identifies milestones met during the year. These successes include: the efforts undertaken with the results of the EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) Audit in 2014; the incorporation of the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) through Republic Act 10635; the ISO 9001:2008 certification; publishing of MARINA circulars on rulings for maritime training institutions and maritime higher education institutions and circulars on regulatory advise for STCW-compliant courses; the incorporation of the MARINA board of examiners; the (Commission on Higher Education) CHED-MARINA joint agreement on the white listing of maritime institutions with deficiencies; and the major transfer of the functions of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
Other achievements cited are: the constitution of the twelve divisions under the STCW Office; the constitution of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Technical Support Services (METSS) and Ratings Board; and the devolution of certification to regions. Estaniel also mentions the strengths achieved with capacity building and enhancement activities and efforts for information drives.
As part of the assessment meet, Estaniel appeals for a more practicable and analytical approach to high profile pressing issues and concerns in areas of: office systems infrastructure; the quantity and qualifications of personnel; contingencies for all possible scenarios; identification of key performance indicators and realistic goal-setting; the volume of seafarers who are still without 2010 STCW Manila Amendments certifications, and other such items discussed under the maximization of services in support systems.
He lays down key expectations in 2016 for the STCWO starting with big ticket items as the readiness to meet the surge of seafarers who will require proficiency and competency certificates, and preparedness for other such emergencies that might render some divisions non-operational for some time. He foresees a merging of internal divisions that handle both convention and non-convention certification and training.
Estaniel also voices out the need for targeting succeeding critical dates and activities for the end of transition period, validity and submission of documents; entreats all concerned on alignment of information; and the leveling up of MARINA and the STCWO with external relevant maritime entities.
And with a final note, he calls that a “pro-active participation” becomes the new STCWO mantra as he expresses the need to refine all the milestones met this 2015 and maximize their functionality by thinking outside the box and taking on a forward-looking culture that can steer the department to even greater heights.
The finale for the team-building activity continues through the night. After all the activities, Deputy Executive Director for STCWO Atty. Jabeth Sena Jepath Dacanay closes with a statement on renewed dedication and great compassion at work with colleagues and the public served as the department faces bigger challenges in 2016.
Attendance of said meet has reached about 300 persons, including division chiefs.