1PACMAN Representative Enrico “Eric” A. Pineda is protesting the “quarantine overkill” conducted on 431 seafarers who have been kept in “virtual solitary confinement” in two Metro Manila hotels in the past two months.
Pineda, chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, said concerned government authorities should look into the complaints aired by relatives of the seafarers who are currently stranded at the Savoy and Heritage hotels and barred from leaving their rooms and even from accepting visitors.
“These seafarers, most of them have been staying in the hotels since October, and since then have not been receiving any compensation or allowance, and they are not allowed to leave their rooms. Given the current situation, the families relying on them are also gravely affected,” Pineda said.
“Being stuck in a room for two to three months, in isolation and without any information on the possibility of boarding a ship again because their manning agency is neither communicating with them nor formally updating them regarding their situation — one can only imagine how they are feeling,” he said.
The senior administration lawmaker said that based on the situation of the seamen, they have become practically prisoners in the hotel.
“I can only surmise how mentally and emotionally distressed they are right now. The situation of our stranded seafarers should be looked into, especially with respect to their health, mental and physical — I have received word that they are not getting proper nutrition,” Pineda told reporters during a news forum at the Batasan complex.
He also warned the CF Sharp Crew Management Inc., the manning agency that allegedly recruited the seafarers, that he will call for a congressional inquiry soon to determine the true condition of the outbound seamen.
While the recruitment agency has not yet responded to Pineda, it was surmised that its decision to hold the seafarers incommunicado may be linked to recent incidents involving 29 Filipino seamen who tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival to their places of deployment in China and Australia.
During a recent committee hearing, Reps. Raymond Democrito Mendoza (TUCP Partylist) and Macnell Lusotan (Marino Partylist) demanded an explanation on the experience of 29 seafarers who tested positive to COVID-19 after being examined again as soon as they arrived at their respective destinations in China and Australia.
The seamen tested negative in the Philippines and were cleared for deployment. While awaiting for their flight, they were billeted in several hotels.
Lusotan called for an investigation into the incident, warning that this could adversely affect the employment of many Filipinos abroad.