Monday, 9 January 2012

Filipino seafarer numbers jump despite problems

The number of Filipino seafarers sailing on foreign ships has jumped to 400,000 in 2011 despite the global economic slowdown and the Eurozone crisis, a report in that country says. This figure represents a 15% jump from numbers earlier projected by the POEA- the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration- that had said that 347,000 Filipinos would be working abroad at sea this year.  Similar growth figures for last year were around 5%.

The POEA credits its seamen, the private sector and the government for the improved numbers. POEA Administrator Carlos Cao, Jr. said that Filipino seamen had an excellent reputation and that the government had done its best to rectify deficiencies detected by the EMSA- European Commission on Maritime Safety Agency- in the country’s maritime training and education. "The government and other maritime industry stakeholders have shown their unity in correcting the problems and that the Philippines submission of the measures to correct the deficiency to the EMSA, well before June deadline, gave the country much credibility in the international seafaring community", he said.

It may be recalled that, after the EMSA audit findings, the Philippines had shut down the country's oldest and biggest maritime college amidst a crackdown on institutes in the country. The move had resulted in protests from the college and students alike.  Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has said recently that the government was committed to making sure that all maritime educational institutions in the country fully met STCW Manila requirements.  

The country produces 280,000 graduates every year and 229,000 Filipinos are said to be serving on ships at any given time; it is unclear whether this figure includes the many who work on cruise ships in the hospitality sector.
Eduardo U. Manese, Joint Manning Group (JMG) Chairman said that the new numbers indicated that Filipino seamen would send home about US$ 4 billion next year. JMG represents overseas crew management in the Philippines and works with DOLE to promote the country's seafarers abroad.

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