By Chito Chavez
A militant labor group has appealed to President Duterte to take urgent measures that will protect the welfare of Filipino seafarers who are now losing their preferential status in the global labor market.
Leody de Guzman of the Buklulurang Mangagawang Pilipino (BMP) issued the appeal even as he accused the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) of failing to comply to global industry standards set by the International Maritime Organization.
De Guzman said the issue of Filipino welfare is personal to him since his youngest son is a seafarer boarding international routes.
He noted that a lot of Filipino seafarers are the sole breadwinners of their families even to the extent of also providing for the needs of their relatives.
Filipino seafarers account for 30 percent of the world’s seafaring population, according to data released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) from 2016 to 2017.
However, De Guzman said Filipino seafarers are quickly losing this dominant position.
He added the impact of this 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 $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,’’ De Guzman said.
De Guzman said this is the effect of the government’s neglect saying the Department of Education (DepEd) has allowed the proliferation of maritime schools which are known to be ‘diploma mills.’’
These maritime schools have allowed the graduation of their students even if they fail the course in exchange for grease money.
De Guzman is a graduate of the Philippine Maritime Institute (now PMI Colleges), one of the oldest maritime schools in the country.
He also called on labor groups that are active in organizing seafarer organizations 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,’’ he concluded.