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‘MANNING INDUSTRY DYING’--PH seafarer deployment cut by more than 100,000

‘MANNING INDUSTRY DYING’--PH seafarer deployment cut by more than 100,000
RAFFY AYENG March 30, 2019


THE DEPLOYMENT of Filipino seafarers dwindled by more than 100,000, according to preliminary data for the year 2018 obtained by The Manila Times.

Based on initial data released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) planning department, seafarer deployment hit 337,502 from January to December, down 111,961 compared with the deployment of 449,463 in January to December 2017.

But the data is not yet final as the POEA will not officially release its 2018 deployment conclusion report for sea-based Filipino workers until June.

“This data is still subject to validation by the POEA-General Administrative and Support Services-Information and Communication Technology Branch. We usually release the final deployment report in the month of June,” the source said.

In 2017, a total of 64,748 Filipino seamen lost their jobs. POEA records showed that a total of 378,072 Filipino sea-based workers were deployed in 2017 compared with 442,820 in 2016.

United Filipino Seafarers President Nelson Ramirez said the dwindling Filipino sea-based deployment has been a big problem for several years.

“There are more than 400,000 Filipino seafarers on commercial vessels around the world, remitting approximately $5.8 billion in earnings annually. Imagine the latest slump in seafarer deployment would also mean thousands of families will starve in the years to come,” said Ramirez, who represents more than 54,000 UFS members.

Pinoys more expensive

Abosta Shipmanagement Corp. President Capt. Jesse Morales said foreign ship-owners continue to choose other nationalities because they were less expensive.

“Owners are shifting to other supplying countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, India and other Eastern European countries due to economic reasons. But we assumed that there are various reasons and/or due to the increasing legal cost in employing Filipino crew as complained by the Protection and Indemnity P&I Insurance and owners,” said Morales, a retired captain who oversees several manning agencies.

Filipino ratings, or skilled seafarers, are estimated to cost $1,000 each per month, compared with $600 to $800 per month in Indonesia.

Morales also said the new Social Security System (SSS) Law would give ship-owners more reason to abandon the country.

“In this new SSS Law, manning agents are considered employers, jointly and solely liable with criminal liability in the event its obligation to this law is violated. Manning industry will eventually die in the near future,” Morales claimed.

Under the new law, sea-based OFWs will be considered regular employed members, instead of contractual. Their contributions will be collected and remitted to the SSS by their manning agencies, which are agents of their principals and are considered employers of the sea-based OFWs.

“With the present situation, slumping of Filipino seafarer’s deployment will continue,” Morales said.

Industry players have blamed the decline in seafarer deployment to “ambulance-chasing,” with foreign ship-owners getting sick and tired of the underhanded practice.

This has prompted some of them to hire instead from China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Russia, Ukraine and India.

Ambulance-chasing refers to the alleged practice of lawyers of taking advantage of labor disputes between seafarers and their employers, often involving health benefit claims.

India takes over

India’s employment of seafarers grew 35 percent in the first months of 2019.

A statement released by the India’s Shipping Ministry said there was an unprecedented growth in the number of Indian seafarers employed on Indian or foreign flag vessels this year. The figure rose from 154,349 in 2017 to 208,799 in 2018.

The number of seafarers employed on Indian flag vessels increased from 22,103 last year to 27,364 this year, while the employment figures on foreign vessels went up from 60,194 to 72,327 during the same period.

The total number of officers employed increased from 60,194 in 2017 to 72,327 in 2018, while the number of ratings during the period also increased from 72,052 to 109,108.

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, the worldwide population of seafarers serving on internationally trading merchant ships was estimated at 1,647,500 seafarers, of which 774,000 were officers and 873,500 were ratings.

China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine are the five largest suppliers of seafarers.

The Philippines is the biggest supplier of ratings, followed by China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

China is the biggest supplier of officers, followed by the Philippines, India, Indonesia and the Russian Federation.