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“We would not reach where we are nowwere it not for these external audits that we willingly submit to. This isinstrumental in ensuring that our vision to be a globally leading institutionproviding high quality training and education be met,” according to Sebastian. JBLFMU denied reports it could berecommended for closure due to alleged non-compliance with Maritime IndustryAuthority (MARINA) regulations and European Maritime Safety Agency Audit(EMSA). “In fact, this would be the third timethe agency has audited the university and as of the past two audits, we havehad no problems meeting the standard,” said Sebastian.Audits are opportunities for improvement, he added. Other maritime schools set for EMSAaudit are the Asian Institute for Maritime Studies in Pasay City, PhilippineMerchant Marine School in Las Piñas City, Our Lady of Fatima University inQuezon City, University of Cebu-Maritime Education and Training Center,Philippine Maritime Institute in Bohol, BIT International College in Bohol,PNTC Colleges in Manila, and Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in Zambales. “The story was taken out of contextand was published with lacking information,” stressed Sebastian. “More so, for a maritime educationalinstitution,” said Sebastian. This year, the EMSA audit will be fromFeb. 24 to March 13. ILOILO City – The closure of John B.Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU), a top maritime school in thecountry based here, could displace thousands of students. But “there is notruth to it,” according to its chief executive officer Dr. Ronald RaymondLacson Sebastian. A national newspaper reported MARINAas having said during a recent hearing of the House of Representatives’Committee on Transportation that 61 of the 91 maritime schools in the countryhave been recommended for closure for failing to meet the InternationalConvention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping forSeafarers. JBLFMU has always been open to EMSAaudits, according to Sebastian. For his part, Sebastian said, “We areconfidently committed to producing globally competent professionals in theservice of maritime. This we do to continue the legacy of my grandfather,Captain John B. Lacson, a legacy to make the maritime profession honorable andnoble.”/PN “The MARINA recommendation for closureof the 61 schools is a different matter to the EMSA audit where JBLFMU ismentioned. We have always been compliant to MARINA standards and in fact weremain a benchmark for maritime education for the agency,” stressed Sebastian. According to Captain Luis Evidente,executive assistant to the CEO of JBLFMU, the last time their school wasaudited by EMSA, results showed it did not have deficiencies, but other schoolsdid. CHED will issue a compliance report tothe school concerned and such school has to act on it, said Evidente. “Angpinakadulo nyan, if ‘di pa rinacceptable, the school may be closed down,” said Evidente. Evidente agreed. “This is why ang status sang John B. Lacson as a university, we are at Level 4. We haveautonomous campuses that produce thousands of very successful graduates. We areconsidered one of the top maritime schools in the country,” he said. The MARINA evaluation, on the otherhand, is another matter, said Evidente, but the closure of schools withdeficiencies is “not outright”, he stressed. EMSA is a European Union (EU) agencycharged with reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution fromships and the loss of human lives at sea by helping enforce standardspeculiar to the EU. He also said the Commission on HigherEducation (CHED) plays a part in the evaluation process. JBLFMU has been given Level 4accreditation by the Philippine Association of Colleges andUniversities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCUOA), the highestaccreditation in the country for an educational institution. In the case of JBLFMU, said Evidente,the most recent MARINA evaluation showed the university having no majorproblems or deficiencies. CHED and MARINA will then check ifthere has been satisfactory compliance. Since JBLFMU is one of the leadingmaritime schools in the Philippines, a country which is a major provider ofmanpower to EU vessels, EMSA regularly audits the university, Evidenteexplained. MARINA did not identify these schoolsthereby fuelling speculations and anxiety. JBLFMU has campuses in the cities ofIloilo and Bacolod.