Philippine maritime training standards should be raised to a level beyond industry requirements in order for Filipino seafarers to maintain their competitive edge, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said today.

“(I)f we are to maintain our competitive edge, we need to enhance our maritime instructions and training to raise our standards even higher and to ensure that the level of competence of our Filipino graduates shall always be above and beyond what the industry requires,” the Vice President said during the 10th commencement exercises of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) in Mariveles, Bataan.

He lauded MAAP for providing full scholarships to its students and said “this expression of solidarity and subsidiarity is something that schools of all scales should seek to emulate.”

“Your investments in simulators and other state-of-the-art facilities provide a total learning experience for your scholars and better prepares them for the duties that they shall soon assume,” he added.

Binay, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Concerns, said there are currently 350,000 Filipinos deployed in the international fleet.

“Our Philippines has become the manning capital of the world. There are over a million and a quarter seafarers working on ships across the seven seas and one of every four is a countryman of ours,” he said.

“They represent us proudly in every vessel they work in and in every shore they visit. Though oceans separate them from us, their contributions to our country’s development programs are firm and felt. In 2011 alone, our seafarers funneled $3.8 billion to our economy and these figures are expected to increase further in the coming years,” he added.

The Vice President said the competence of Filipino seafarers makes them sought after by employers abroad.

“(A)nd more than their skill, the Filipino values of pakikisama, pakikibagay, and pagtutulungan set them apart from their contemporaries from our strongest competitors in India, China, Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, among others,” he said.

He called on the graduates to be “the best emissaries of the academy and the truest ambassadors of the Philippines.”