The Philippines was only able to employ an average of 5,000 seafarers a month at the height of the coronavirus disease outbreak, thousands lower than the original target of deployment, an official of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) said Thursday.
Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, MARINA administrator, disclosed in a press briefing that from March to June this year, the country was only able to send around 20,000 seafarers to crew ships.
“I think from March to June, 4,000 seafarers were deployed but based on our data, it’s supposed to be 45,000 a month. Last year, we were able to employ 500,000 seafarers but from March to June this year, we averaged around 5,000, so it’s only around 20,000 in four months. Ang laki ng kakulangan (There’s a huge difference),” Empedrad said.
The administrator, however, said that the employment improved in July to September 2020 as the country was able to send an average of 45,000 seafarers a month to other countries, based on the data of the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration.
“I hope it will be sustained,” he said.
Empedrad explained that the number of employed seafarers drastically increased beyond June as the seafarers, who were prevented to be employed during the travel restrictions, were finally deployed.
“Kaya dumami yun kasi yung dapat na aalis ng March, April, May, and June, sumabay but again kulang pa rin, hindi pa rin namin na-reach yung dapat na requirement natin(The number increased because those who were not able to leave in March to June, were employed the next months but it’s still not enough, we haven’t reached the requirement) but hopefully, when all restrictions from the government and foreign countries, ports, airports, hopefully we can increase our employment of seafarers in the next months,” the official said.
Aside from improved employment of seafarers, MARINA is also hoping that international crew ships would opt to conduct crew change in the country in a bid to employ more seafarers.
“I believe there are still lots of crew ships not able to do crew change. We are hoping that they will come to the Philippines and do crew change here because it would be a big help if they conduct ng crew change here,” Empedrad said.
“Filipino seafarers will get the opportunity to be employed and secondly, if they are here the logistical requirement of the ship that they need will be infused to our economy. Malaking tulong yung pag nagpunta sila dito (It will be a huge help if they come here),” he added.