The welfare and needs of Filipino seafarers, such as up-to-date training and certification, must be prioritized by the government if they are to be at par with the rest of the world.
This was highlighted by Adm. Artemio Abu, Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), during the 128th International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council Meeting in London on Thursday, Dec. 1.
During his speech, Abu thanked IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim for recognizing the importance of Filipino seafarers in the international maritime industry.
“The Secretary-General recognizes the exacting requirements of the International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCM) 2019 – Manila Amendments which has a special significance to our country as a major provider of human resource to the global shipping industry,” Abu said.
The Manila Amendments of the STCM were major revisions in the original version in 1978 which were adopted to ensure that “the necessary global standards will be in place to train and certify seafarers to operate technologically advanced ships for some time to come.”
The PCG chief noted that Lim’s “special concern” to seafarers is reflected in the IMO’s strategic plan for 2018 to 2023 which takes into account the needs of the seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic and the hostilities in Ukraine.
These events caused the layoff of many seafarers in different parts of the world as the shipping industry was put into a halt.
Meanwhile, Abu also lauded Lim’s initiatives to promote general equality and empowerment of women in the maritime industry through the six-year strategic plan.
In 2016, Lim visited the Philippines and graced the celebration of the “Day of the Seafarer” and Filipino Seafarer Day.”
Lim had emphasized during the event that “seafarers are the beating heart of the shipping world as they keep the wheels of the world in motion.”
There are around 229,000 Filipino seafarers around the world, making the Philippines the world’s largest supplier of mariners.
But problems on training and certification continue to hound the industry, thereby, putting the seafarers’ livelihoods in peril.
Last month, it was reported that around 50,000 Filipino seafarers are at risk of losing their jobs in European vessels as the country reportedly continues to fail for the past 16 years its compliance with the STCM conducted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).