Poe: Protect Filipino seafarers’ jobs

Senator Grace Poe said the Philippines still has time to overcome the shortcomings in the training and certification of Filipino seafarers.

“The mere fact that they (European Union) have been accommodating and have not given us a definitive timeline, I know they appreciate the process we are undertaking at the moment,” Poe said during the plenary deliberations of the Senate on the budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Based on Poe's proposed budget amendment earlier, the Senate increased the Maritime Industry Authority's (MARINA’s) allocation for "monitoring and enforcement of maritime laws and regulations" by P56.7 million or from P20,947,000 based on the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).to P80,693,000 to ensure the country's compliance with international maritime standards.

At present, the European Union has not disqualified Filipino seafarers from their shipping lines and the Philippines' accreditation has not been revoked.

However, the EU has identified areas that the country would need to take corrective action on such as education, training and certification, among others.

“We are still accredited but we need to work on this because if not, the employment of 49,461 Filipino marine officers will be in jeopardy and the employment of almost 600,000 certificated Filipino seafarers, including officers, will also be affected,” Poe said.

Poe stated that the EU is giving the country the opportunity to address its deficiencies.

“We were not given a real timeline. What is important for the EU is that they see an effort to comply and it is an ongoing process,” she said.

According to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Filipino sea-based workers sent a total of $6.5 billion in remittances to their families in the country in 2021.

From January to September this year, their remittances have amounted to $4.92 billion, a 1.8 percent increase over the $4.8 billion they sent home in the same period in 2021.

Amid the issue with the certification and training of Filipino seafarers, the earnings they sent home still grew.

‘'Without being too presumptuous or arrogant about this, without the Filipino seafarers, I don’t think the maritime industry will be able to function properly. If we are not at the top, we are probably at the top 3 of those supplying seafarers,” Poe said. (30)