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Honoring Filipino seafarers

Honoring Filipino seafarers
Malaya Business Insight - June 27, 2023

IF only for the amount of dollars Filipino seafarers are contributing to the national economy every year, these “modern heroes” — as successive administrations called them — deserve the whole nation’s respect and commendation.

This lifeblood of the maritime industry provides an immense contribution to the country’s economy. In 2022, an estimated 489,852 Filipino seafarers were deployed, constituting around 25 percent of the world’s mariners. Filipino seafarers remitted $6.5 billion or roughly 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019.

The celebration of the “Day of the Filipino Seafarer” last June 25 became an opportunity for our officials — President Marcos, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Hernani Fabia to pay homage to all Filipino seafarers who are sacrificing a safe and comfortable life on land to work at sea with all its risks and inconveniences.

Marcos said “this (seafaring) industry needs to be supported to maintain the global recognition it is receiving… I have no doubt about the competence of our seafarers.”

‘The MARINA administrator has enlightened many by pointing out that seafaring is not just an occupation that pays well, but it has also an important part to play in preserving the global environment.’

He thanked the seafarers who “toil day and night to support their loved ones and the Filipino nation.”

Speaker Romualdez promised the Chief Executive can depend on Congress to fully support the welfare of seafarers and invigorate the maritime industry. Romualdez cited the enactment of the “Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” one of the significant bills that the House of Representatives intends to legislate during the Marcos’ administration.

The Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers or House Bill No. 7325 is one of the 33 priority bills of President Marcos that the House approved during the first regular session of the 19th Congress. It is a comprehensive and progressive legislation that will address various challenges being encountered by the seafarers. It ensures fair and just working conditions, provides for reasonable compensation, guarantees access to quality health care and education, and promotes the welfare of seafarers and their families.

Meanwhile, Administrator Fabia said there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between the aspirations of the younger generation and the growing needs of Filipino seafarers so they would be enticed to join the maritime industry and ensure its survival.

Fabia said we need to understand the changing ambitions of the younger generation during these times. The allure of a seafarer career, once a proud tradition passed down through generations, is no longer a popular choice among the young. Many may not see themselves embarking on a career at sea because of the many career choices available in the job market.

The MARINA chief exhorted stakeholders of the maritime industry to show the youth the many opportunities available in the maritime profession. “Let us inspire the younger generation, ensuring that they understand the significance of seafaring and their contribution to the maritime world including the impact they can have in protecting our oceans,” he said.

According to Fabia, Filipino seafarers are actively implementing regulations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) to ensure the proper handling and disposal of sea wastes, prevent oil spills, and protect marine life from the harmful effects of pollution.

The MARINA administrator has enlightened many by pointing out that seafaring is not just an occupation that pays well, but it has also an important part to play in preserving the global environment.