Ched set to challenge court ruling on non-compliant maritime programs

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Sunday, February 12, 2012


THE Commission on Higher Education (Ched) said it will challenge a ruling issued by a Quezon City court that allows PMI Colleges to continue offering its two non-compliant maritime degree programs.

Ched Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan said she had asked Office of the Solicitor General to seek a reconsideration of an order issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 105 Rosa Samsom allowing PMI to continue offering BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) programs despite a closure order from the commission last October.

Licuanan said failure on their part to reverse the order might result in blacklisting of PMI graduates and eventually Filipino seamen from European Union (EU) registered vessels. She said the EU wants strict adherence to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention.

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She said the country also risked its removal from the EU White List of those compliant with the STCW regulations that could affect the P3-billion maritime industry. Filipino seafarers constitute approximately 30 percent of the world's maritime manpower labor requirements.

"To avert the imminent damage to the Philippine economy that Judge Samson's injunctive writ now poses, Ched will immediately seek all legal remedies available in the higher courts through its statutory counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General," the Ched chair said.

For her part, Ched Legal Director Carmelita Yadao-Sison, who also heads the task force coordinating implementation of Ched actions on non-compliant courses and programs, denied they were targeting PMI, adding the commission has also issued the same closure order on other institutions with non-compliant degrees such as the Harvardian College in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The closure order for Harvardian Colleges affected courses such as Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Bachelor of Arts in English, Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Accounting, Management and Finance and Master of Education Administration, Supervision, Guidance and Counseling.

Sison said Ched decided on the closure order after the European Maritime Safety Agency gave the Maritime Training Council and Ched until August 31 last year to submit the country's report of compliance showing proof of corrective measures already undertaken to correct their findings that the Philippines is no longer compliant with STCW in various areas concerning the maritime industry.

At the same time, the official said the Commission has allowed graduating students to complete their courses, while assisting former PMI students to transfer to compliant maritime institutions.

"The Ched Office of Student Services has also provided information on available student financial assistance packages," Sison said.

Other than the Ched assessments and evaluations, both PMI–Manila and Quezon City schools, she added were subjected to an independent assessment by the EU through the EMSA in 2006 and 2010 pursuant to the STCW Convention. Their findings likewise cited numerous deficiencies and instances of non-compliance to the requirements by PMI.

The management of PMI and various students organizations have protested the Ched closure order and seek the court intervention, which sided with its arguments that they were not afforded the opportunity to be heard when the Commission changed the effectivity of the closure orders from the first semester of AY2012-2013 to second semester of AY2011-2012.

The PMI's management said this is a clear violation of the Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education (MORPHE).

Likewise, the court said it was not convinced by Ched's arguments that the continuation of the programs even only up to second semester of AY2011-2012 would cause the exclusion of the Philippines from the White List pending the audit of states for compliance with the STCW Convention conducted every five years. (AH/Sunnex)

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