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Unhampered deployment of seafarers sought

Unhampered deployment of seafarers sought
Genivi Factao October 7, 2020

Maritime training centers have asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to allow seafarers who were about to be deployed to have an assessment with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to be able to secure a National Certificate (NC).

Dr. Glenn Mark Blasquez, president of the Association of Technical Schools in Manila (ATSMI- Manila) and SIMS Training Center, said thousands of seafarers who already have contracts were still waiting to be assessed by Tesda, whose actions were limited due to community quarantine.

“We appeal to IATF, chaired by [Health] Secretary Francisco Duque, to allow TESDA assessment so seafarers can work abroad. Christmas is coming. The families of seafarers were looking for a brighter life ahead. They (seafarers) were here for so long. If they were here since March until October, their budget was gone,” he told The Manila Times.

Tesda Secretary Isidro Lapeña said Tesda has been able to mobilize and resume its implementation of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in areas under varying levels of community quarantine throughout the country.

“Currently, the IATF Omnibus Guidelines only permits face-to-face assessment under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) for up to 50 percent assessment site capacity,” Lapeña said.

Blasquez asked that accredited training centers be allowed to have an assessment of Tesda, especially for outbound seafarers because they already have contracts and have completed their training.

“It’s just a one-day assessment to be conducted by Tesda. They were just waiting for that assessment to be given a National Certificate (NC). If you have NC, it showed that the OFW is competent,” he said.

The NC was needed as an industry requirement for those who are trying to apply for a job overseas such as caregivers, seafarers, and domestic helpers.

“Thus face-to-face assessment in areas under GCQ is urgently needed by our OFWs for them to survive the economic impact brought by this pandemic,” Lapeña said.

Blasquez was hoping that they can have assessment now, as most of the training centers were in National Capital Region (NCR).

“Our seafarers have already secured contracts. There were about 600 from our training center alone and approximately 3,000 including others,” he explained.

“Under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there were 16,000 regular cooks. If half of them were for maritime, that’s 8, 000 seafarers, who were still pending. The cooks were needed in a ship,” he said.

TesdA has requested IATF to approve face-to-face assessment for outbound OFWs in GCQ areas especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), where most of the target candidates for assessment were currently situated and were waiting to be deployed overseas.

TesdA said the face-to-face assessment under GCQ must comply with the following. First, applicants for assessment must present their overseas employment certificate (OEC) and employment contract to Tesda. Second, the accredited Assessment Centers may only operate at a maximum of 50 percent of the assessment site capacity. And third, strict compliance to minimum public health standards and Tesda guidelines and consultation with local government units must be observed.

Tesda has designated Director Angelina Carreon, director in charge of the Regional Operations Management Office as the focal person on this matter.