Int'l stakeholders welcome decision of European Commission on Filipino seafarers

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2023 07:34 PM

Cruise ship tourists are given a Philippine fiesta-themed welcome as they arrive at the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal in Manila on February 15, 2023. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file
Cruise ship tourists are given a Philippine fiesta-themed welcome as they arrive at the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal in Manila on February 15, 2023. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA -- International stakeholders on Monday lauded the recent decision by the European Commission recognizing certificates of Filipino seafarers.

“The international community, certainly the international shipping industry is elated with the decision to extend the Filipino certification across EU. It is great news that this has taken a positive direction,” said International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) Chief Executive Officer Francesco Gargiulo during DMW’s online press conference.

Gargiulo also thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for addressing the concerns of shipowners and employers.

“Thanks to his proactive approach, positive outcome which will now spur a number of European employers into action. A lot of them have been sitting on the fence, have been waiting to hear about the outcome of this particular process. So this is a massive relief,” he added.

Despite the recent development, the adjustments and improvements needed to further train and educate Filipino seafarers should be done as soon as possible, stakeholders said.

“Please let’s see let’s see this as a beginning of a new chapter to make sure that the Filipino seafarer are continued to maintain the position as number one in the world,” International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Director for Employment Affairs Natalie Shaw said.

The international stakeholders said there are issues that need to be addressed, particularly on incidents of ambulance chasing and education.

“The landscape of the industry is changing and it is changing at a rapid pace with the carbonization and the new requirements and expectations of seafarers, so the challenge that the Philippines is facing today unless we are able to address them and be forward looking in our approach, there will be even more significant challenges, might be much more than 50,000 jobs at stake in the future,” said Helio Vicente, Senior Manager for Policy and Employment Affairs of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said the government is working on addressing these concerns, raising the issue on ambulance chasing with both the judicial and executive branch.

“On the issue of education, we received an invitation from the DOTr and the Office of Secretary Jimmy Bautista has invited us to a meeting tomorrow with CHED, MARINA and other relevant agencies present to discuss the next steps forward and also to reflect results and recommendation given by the European Commission,” Ople said.

She added that the legislature are also working on the approval of the Magna Carta for Seafarers and other measures.

“Once this law is enacted and the implementation gets underway, I think there will be further stability in the international maritime sector,” Ople said.

The international shipping stakeholders are also confident that once the obstacles are addressed, it would change the dynamics as far as the Filipino seafarers are concerned.

“Will that change if we have that issue addressed? Absolutely, 100 percent. I am very confident that if we were to get to a place at some point this year or perhaps next year when we have a Magna Carta in place, we will see a resurgence of Filipino numbers,” Gargiulo said.

For now, the DMW is working with stakeholders to come up with a roadmap to determine the government and the industry’s next moves.