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Lawmakers eye new training ship for PMMA

Lawmakers eye new training ship for PMMA
January 5, 2022

Lawmakers joined the industry's collective efforts to ease the dearth of cadetship berths in the country as they deliberate on the bill that seeks to provide the state-run Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) a new charter that includes a provision for a training ship.

Before Congress took its Christmas break last month, the House of Representatives started deliberating on House Bill 10449, the substitute bill for House Bill 6439 originally authored by Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, that seeks to declare PMMA as the National Maritime Academy.

HB 10449, which was approved jointly by the House committees on ways and means and appropriation committee as well as the higher and technical education committee, aims to further strengthen the PMMA as the nation's leading maritime education and training institution and transform it into a research and development center, a think tank for the industry.

The bill, if enacted into law, would help in easing the acute shortage of berths for shipboard training of maritime students, as it mandates PMMA to "acquire and maintain at least one state-of-the-art, diesel-hybrid multi-role training vessel to serve as a training ship for midshipmen."

Moreover, Section 18 of HB 10449 adds that the training ship will be used "in carrying out such activities as patrols, research studies and surveys in line with its role" in the maritime industry and national development. The bill specifically states that the government will provide for the budget for the training ship's operation.

This simply means that Congress will allocate funds for its operation, the biggest stumbling block for maintaining the training ship which is a must for a seafarer-supplying country like the Philippines.

The congressional support for the acquisition of a training ship dovetails well with the efforts of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to revise for the nth time the curricula for BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) programs to address, among others, the failure of maritime schools to send most of their students for onboard training (OBT).

Marina and CHED are now busy conducting public consultations among representatives of the maritime higher education institution (MHEIs), the manning community, organizations of maritime professionals, and other industry groups on their proposed changes in the curricula of the two maritime programs.