Villanueva pushes for opening of PH ports for faster deployment of seafarers
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Joel Villanueva is pushing for the reopening of airports and seaports to assist in the faster crew changes of Filipino seafarers and avert a potential two-year deployment drought.
Villanueva, in a statement, said that a looming deployment drought is seen unless the government makes interventions that include the reopening of more airports and seaports that would allow the more fluid movement of Filipino seafarers while also minimizing the risk of contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Dahil po sa limitadong pagbyahe at iba pang mga pagbabawal sa transportasyon, pahirapan po maka-alis ang ating mga seafarer para palitan ang mga kasamahan nila na kasalukuyang naglalayag, at hirap din makauwi sa kanilang pamilya ang mga bumaba sa kanilang barko. Kailangan po ng mga barko na magsagawa ng crew change para masigurong patuloy ang kanilang operasyon ng maayos at makapag-pahinga ang ating mga seafarer,” said Villanueva in a statement.
(Because of the limited flights and decreased movement in terms of transportation, it has been difficult for seafarers to go and relieve their colleagues who are currently at sea. Seafarers also found it difficult to go home to their families when they disembark. Ships need to undergo a crew change to make sure that their operations remain continuous and that seafarers get proper rest.)
Villanueva will emphasize on Tuesday in the resumption of the Senate labor committee inquiry that seafarers have been a consistent driver of overseas remittances and that he would look into resolving the issues concerning the seafarer industry that have been greatly hit due to the lockdown protocols imposed to curb COVID-19.
“As policymakers, we should look into their concerns and introduce legislation that would address these. We will work for common grounds to help our seafarers without flouting the regulations intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” added Villanueva who chairs the Senate labor committee.
He added that his office received reports that shipowners and international manning agencies are now looking for alternatives in place of Filipino seafarers due to difficulty encountered in crew change processes in the Philippines.
Ukraine and India are seen as the potential alternative nations that could field seafarers instead of the Philippines and this could trigger a two-year deployment drought that Villanueva had pointed out.
Villanueva said that Filipino seafarers make up over 25 percent of the over 1.5 million seafarers worldwide that enables some 90 percent of the global trade via sea.
“Our seafarers play a vital role in both the national and global economy, contributing close to $7 billion in inward annual remittances to the country,” said Villanueva. “In 2017, Filipino seafarers contributed $5.87 billion in remittances, up by 21.4 percent from $4.84 billion in 2012.”
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