As the world celebrates International Seafarers Day, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured on June 25, 2021, the government will continue to promote the rights and welfare of over 300,000 Filipino nationals in the maritime industry.
With the Philippines having over 337,000 seafarers, “it is logical, good policy and just plain right and decent for us in government to ensure a good future for them”, according to a statement by DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
“Let us not fail them because that is like throwing them overboard with a makeshift anchor tied to their ankles,” he said.
The DFA will fight for fair working conditions for seafarers and continue to press for the right to repatriation and crew change.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put seafarers around the world in a precarious situation. Many lost their jobs while some are stranded.
“Many are unable to come home, stranded at sea with limited provisions due to quarantine restrictions on disembarkation and embarkation. Some have been stranded on board for as long as a year, in ports that will not allow them to disembark. This tragic situation has taken a toll on their well-being, mental health, and on their families. Some have taken their own lives,” Locsin stated.
The “unacceptable and outrageous” situation led the DFA to make efforts in bringing home seafarers and fighting for their human right to crew change.
Previously, the government established a green lane for seafarers to facilitate safe crew changes for those who need to leave their ships.
Among others, it prioritized sailors in the vaccine program as frontline workers.
Locsin said the DFA also pressed relevant agencies to address the negative findings of the European Maritime Safety Agency on the regulation and quality of Maritime Higher Education Institutions.
“We have been told again and again, indeed for 16 years, that many of our schools are failing to provide this. And so far, we’ve come up only with excuses. As a result, close to 30,000 marine officers are in danger of losing their jobs onboard European-registered vessels, the best-paying and the best-treating in the entire world,” Locsin said.
“Under my watch, we will go on condemning bad maritime schools that put our better ones in such a bad light and we call on those tasked with the job to just do it,” he added.
As he hailed all seafarers for their “invaluable contribution” to global trade and the world economy, Locsin assured Filipino sailors that the DFA always stands ready to assist and support them.
“The DFA will always be there for the men and women who buoyed up our economy, and who left family to find a better future for them. A meaningful Day of the Seafarer to all,” he said. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora, PNA)