The Philippines is emerging as a major hub for crew change aboard international sea vessels, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.
This, as the agency processed and cleared last year more than 112,000 seafarers who either joined or left their ships.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said they were supporting the government’s bid to make the country a major international hub for crew change of maritime vessels.
Morente said immigration officers have been deployed to six ports that have been designated as crew change hubs. These are located in Manila, Bataan, Batangas, Subic, Cebu, and Davao.
The BI chief added that the bureau recognizes the contribution of seafarers to the Philippine economy.
According to BI Bay Service Section chief Alnazib Decampong, BI officers processed a total of 112,220 seafarers who joined or left their vessels in 2020.
Decampong said 92,931 of these seamen were Filipinos while 19,289 were foreigners.
“Crew changes are vital to the international maritime industry as it affords sea vessels the opportunity to refresh their manpower, especially vital today amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Decampong added.
The Philippines is said to be the largest of supplier of seafarers to the world’s maritime industry.
Last July, the Philippines opened a “green lane” for seafarers to facilitate free movement and travel across borders for sailors in Asia.
“We assist in the implementation of the green lane for seafarers to ensure that they are accorded speedy and safe travel, subject to the health protocols,” said Decampong.