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Business group seeks government help on seafarers

Business group seeks government help on seafarers
Robertzon Ramirez - February 18, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — A maritime business group is calling for help from the government amid fears that 50,000 seafarers may be on the verge of losing their jobs for failure to comply with international maritime safety standards of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

Worldwide Maritime Operations Co. president and chief operating officer Rachelle Lopez told reporters that they need the government’s help in order to save the Philippine maritime industry, as she emphasized that the country has been a major contributor of seafarers around the world.

Lopez is the organizer of the two-day Expo Maritime Philippines 2023 in Pasay City that ran from Feb. 16-17, which is also aimed at uplifting the spirit of the Filipino seafarer at risk of losing their job due to the EMSA report.

She said that they are concerned about the EMSA report, as it would affect the employment of seafarers if the government fails to comply with the international maritime safety standards, but she hopes government will heed their call.

“That is one of the problems now because… some seafarers might be losing their jobs because of the EMSA (audit report), and we’re seeing around 50,000 seafarers who will be affected. But we’re not losing hope, and with the help of the President, we are very positive that this will be resolved,” Lopez said.

She said they particularly want the government to pass the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers.

President Marcos recently said that the Philippine government will do everything to address the observations of the EMSA as he vowed compliance with European standards to prevent massive job losses among seafarers.

Senators Ronald dela Rosa and Cynthia Villar were among the guests at yesterday’s opening ceremony of the expo, along with some lawmakers from the OFW and Marino party-lists and officials from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

With the lawmakers’ presence during the event, Lopez said they are asking the government to help the Philippine maritime industry so that they could keep abreast with international maritime standards.

For his part, Dela Rosa said he would look into updates of the Magna Carta, being the author of the bill in the Senate, as he assured Filipino seafarers and the maritime industry that he will keep an eye on it so that it will be passed as soon as possible.

“The government should support our maritime industry. This is a huge industry… we have to keep ourselves abreast with the international standards so as not to waste and neglect this industry,” he said.

Villar said that she is elated by the maritime expo and convention, as she emphasized that the Philippines has always been a major player in the world maritime scene and expressed optimism that the maritime industry in the Philippines will receive beneficial lessons from the convention.