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House blocks bill on PMMA cadet slots for parliamentary districts

A bill requiring the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) to accept at least one cadet from each congressional district each school year to make up its freshman class was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday during its third and final reading. This requirement is meant to ensure that all congressional districts are represented in graduating classes and to increase the access of students from remote areas to higher education.

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House Bill 6994, which was primarily written by Reps. Rufus Rodrigues of Cagayan de Oro City’s second congressional district, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas of Pangasinan’s sixth congressional district, and Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe of Zamboanga City’s second congressional district was approved with 247 yes votes and one no vote.

According to the law, cadets from congressional districts must first pass the entrance exam and meet all PMMA admission standards.

A minimum of three cadets must be chosen for a province with only one congressional district, according to the measure. A qualified applicant, regardless of residence, will only be considered for the position once the PMMA determines that there are no qualified applicants from a certain congressional district.

The bill also requires the PMMA to develop rules and regulations for the program’s successful implementation after it is enacted, in conjunction with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and other relevant government authorities.

HB 6994, according to Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, will not only promote equity but also give deserving students—particularly young people from remote and provincial areas—the chance to attend PMMA.

The applicants must still pass the test and submit the prerequisites, therefore this measure does not seek to provide special treatment. However, this would undoubtedly guarantee that, at the very least, young people from all over the nation may begin with an equal playing field when it comes to access to study at the esteemed PMMA, he added in a statement.

The PMMA, which has its headquarters in San Narciso, Zambales, is one of the nation’s oldest institutions and the pioneer in maritime education, having been founded in 1820.

It has produced a large number of master mariners, chief engineers, shipping executives, navy officers, and other practitioners in the marine and maritime business with the help of the government and the shipping industry.

Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering are the two main four-year degrees that the PMMA provides (BSMarE).

In 1996, it began providing graduate programs in maritime education and training and shipping management.

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