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Rehiring of Pinoy seafarers rises due to LGU vaccination of mariners

September 27, 2021

QUEZON CITY – The rehiring of Filipino seafarers – the most sought-after seafarers in the global seafaring industry – is rising, thanks to local government units' inclusion of Filipino seafarers into their COVID19 vaccination program, said the workers group the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

The deployment of Filipino seafarers fell to 252,000 in 2020 from 470,000 in 2019 due to the pandemic lockdown restrictions in the country and in ports around the world.

"But at the growing rate the national and local government units are now vaccinating our seafarers, we are optimistic that we can reach our target number of Filipino seafarers completely vaccinated and ready for redeployment by the end of 2021. We will continue to work with the national and local governments to provide more jabs for our seafarers in their vaccination program," said TUCP President and TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza.

Mendoza thanked Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro for the inoculation of deployment-ready 300 more members of the Associated Philippine Seafarers' Union (APSU) and Associated Maritime Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) with vaccine brands preferred by shipowners abroad.

The vaccination held at the Marikina Sports Center materialized with the coordination between seafarers unions APSU, AMOSUP and the Joint Manning Group (JMG) with the city government.

With that activity, the TUCP placed the total vaccinated Filipino seafarers close to 100,000 since the vaccination began in May this year.

Mendoza said before the pandemic the country deploys an average of 400,000 Filipino seafarers per year to work in 51,400 merchant ships around the world.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) in May this year changed the classification of seafarers in the order of priority vaccination from B3 category to A4 category and to A1 category as frontline essential sector category for those with immediate deployment contracts following a joint lobby between TUCP, seafarers unions and local manning agencies.

According to the global union federation the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), Filipino seafarers are the backbone of global shipping industry.

Before the pandemic, twenty five per percent of the 1.7 million marine workers in 51,400 cruise and merchant ships transporting oil, food, medicines and other essential products to and from different parts of the world are Filipinos making them the largest group of seafarers.

Filipino seafarers are preferred by shipowners and manning agencies abroad because they have a legacy for being good communicator, hardworking, multi-skilled and professional workers.

In 2019 alone, more than a quarter of the world's 1.6 million seafarers come from the Philippines with 470,000 Filipino seafarers contributed to almost US $7 Billion to the Philippine economy.

However, by the end of 2020 or nine months after the March 2020 lockdown, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) recorded deployed seafarers not exceeding 200,000.

Meanwhile, APSU National President Michael Mendoza urged the local government units to accommodate more seafarers into their local vaccination programs.

Thus far, only seven Local Government Units allow vaccination for seafarers. These are Manila, Pasig, Taguig and Las Piñas cities in Metro Manila and Cebu City, Iloilo City and Davao City.

"We are on track but we need additional city mayors to commit vaccination slots for our seafarers and contribute to bigger and faster redeployment of our seafarers. The more vaccinated seafarers that we deploy, the greater chances we can retake our place as the most sought after seafarer in the world shipping industry," Mendoza said.

Filipino seafarers contribute significantly to the global supply chain and help keep our local economy afloat through the financial remittances to their families back home.

Before the pandemic, the Philippines is the biggest supplier of seafarers hired by shipowners followed by China, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Myanmar.