Senator Cynthia A. Villar on Friday, February 17, encouraged government agencies and the private sector to join efforts to revitalize the maritime industry.
Speaking during the Expo Maritime Philippines 2023: Flag States and Shipbuilders Convention Harbor Garden Tent (Exhibit) at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, Villar mentioned reports that the operations of 118 Philippine shipyards suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic.
”But now, it appears to be an opportune time to revitalize this sector,’’ she said.
"We welcome that this convention gives focus to the state and potentials of the shipbuilding industry in the Philippines as we learned that the Philippine government is encouraging investments for shipbuilding to flourish again in the country," she said.
"Time and again, it is being reported that Filipinos are the preferred seafarers in the world, mainly because of the innate ability of Filipinos to cope up with marine life, being hardworking, flexible, jovial, being highly trainable and fluent in English," she added.
Data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that the Philippines is the largest source of seafarers in the world.
Based on 2021 figures, an estimated 25 percent of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos.
Villar said this translates to around 380,000 Filipino seafarers who fueled the Philippine economy with around US$6.543 billion worth of remittances based on Philippine Central Bank (BSP) figures.
With these realities, Villar underscored the importance of ensuring that Filipino seafarers are well protected.
She related that in June 2021 at the height of the pandemic, and upon the request of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), they opened their event place -Villar Tent in Las Piñas- to host the Covid-19 vaccination of our Filipino seafarers so that they could go back to work immediately with slim risks of infection.
The Villar hosting of the vaccination lasted for 10 months, from June 2021 up to April 2022.
The MARINA figures indicated that 46,907 Filipino seafarers were vaccinated at the Tent.
”It is truly heartwarming for my family and I to have brought happiness, rendered service and to have assisted in affording protection to our migrant workers, including our seafarers," she added.
The senator emphasized that she has been espousing on the rights and welfare of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).