21 March 2019
Urgent gov’t action needed to protect Filipino seafarers - Labor senate bet
Partido Lakas ng Masa sole senatorial bet and labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman called on the Duterte administration for urgent action to protect the jobs and welfare of Filipino seafarers as they are quickly losing their preferential status in the global labor market.
The veteran labor leader expressed this alarm after the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) failed to comply by global industry standards set by the International Maritime Organization.
De Guzman said the issue of Filipino welfare is personal for him since his youngest son is a seafarer boarding international routes. He said, "Napakaraming pamilya ang umaasa sa mga seafarer. Marami sa kanila ang sumuporta sa kanilang mga kamag-anak na sumampa ng barko - kahit nababahala sa magiging pagkawalay. Hindi lang dahil sa mas mataas na kikitain sa pagbabarko kundi dahil sa panatag sila na respetado at mapagkakatiwalaan ang mga marinong Pilipino".
The Filipino seafarers accounts for 30 percent of the world's seafaring population, according to data released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) from 2016 to 2017. But they are quickly losing this dominant position.
De Guzman says the impact of the diqualification will severely impact the economy and their families. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) revealed that there are about 378,072 seafarers in 2017 bringing in about $USD 6 billion in remittances.
The issue of non-compliance by Filipino seafarers to global standards is not new. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) last 2017 pointed to deficiencies in the Philippine maritime industry, particularly on maritime education, training and certification systems.
The PLM senatoriable stressed, "Epekto ng matinding kapayabaan ng gobyerno ang dahilan kung bakit may banta sa dominanteng posisyon natin sa global maritime industry. Hinayaan ng CHEd na lumaganap ang mga maritime school na naging 'diploma mill' ng mga gradweyt na bagsak sa pamantayan ng industriya. Ginatasan lamang nito ang mga pamilyang umaasang makasampa ng barko ang kanilang mga anak".
De Guzman himself is a graduate of a maritime school, the Philippine Maritime Institute (now PMI Colleges), one of the oldest maritime schools in the country.
"Sa usapin ng certification, tiyak tayong umiral ang perenyal na problema ng korapsyon. Nagkalat ang mga manning agencies na hindi nakasabay sa mga pagbabago sa pandaigdigang istandard. Kung paano sila nananatiling may sertipikasyon mula sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno ay isang milagrong may presyo", he emphasized.
The senatorial candidate is national chair of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP). He likewise called on labor groups that are active in organizing seafarers to close ranks and unite. "The AMOSUP (Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines), PSU (Philippine Seafarers Union), and PTGWO (Philippine Trade and General Workers' Organization) should unite to ensure the welfare of Filipino seafarers in order to maintain their competitiveness in the global market". ###