MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino acknowledged the contribution of Filipino seafarers to the economy.
In a speech during the commencement exercises of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in San Narciso, Zambales, President Aquino said seafarers remitted $4.34 billion or 21.58% of the $20.12 billion worth of remittances from overseas Filipino workers last year.
The President vowed to look after the welfare of seafarers especially against piracy. He ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to ensure their safety.
"Inatasan po natin silang siguruhin ang kaligtasan at proteksyon ng ating seafarers—ang pakikipag-ugnayan para sa pagpapalaya at pagbawi sa kanila, at ang pangangalaga sa kanila pong mga pamilya," he said.
Seamen should also undergo security training, he said.
"Maigting pong ipinapatupad ng DOLE-POEA ang Memorandum Circular No. 2 Series of 2010. Tinitiyak nitong dumadaan sa malawakang pagsasanay ang ating mga marino. Paghahanda ito sa pagharap sa anumang masasamang elemento na maaaring sumalubong sa kanilang paglalayag."
The President, along with Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas, handed out the diplomas to this year's graduates of the state-run academy.
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan conferred the degrees.
Midshipman Lt. Commander Michael Barrera is this year's valedictorian.
PMMA President Commodore Richard Ritual took pride in academy's average passing rate of 90% which is way higher than the 39% national average.
He said PMMA graduates enjoy a 100 percent employment rate after graduation.