Seafarer deployment up in September despite COVID-19 pandemic, says labor dept

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 30 2020 01:33 PM

A motor banca makes it’s way back to shore as it passes by a cruise ship anchored at the Manila bay on April 28, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The overseas deployment of Filipino seafarers recently went up despite the coronavirus pandemic, the labor department said Friday. 

The Philippines in September deployed some 46,000 sea-based migrant workers, up from about 41,000 in the same month last year, said Labor Undersecretary Joji Aragon. 

"Sumisiglang muli ang ating pag-deploy hindi lang sa cargo, oil—to a certain extent, even the cruise line, sumisigla ulit," she said in a Laging Handa public briefing. 

(Our deployment is livening up, not just for cargo ships and oil tankers--to a certain extent, even for the cruise line.)

Last year, 1 in 5 overseas Filipino workers are seafarers, who accounted for about a third of remittances, she said. 

The Philippines is one of the world’s leading suppliers of merchant seafarers, whose remittances help fuel the country’s economy. There were nearly 500,000 Filipino seafarers on vessels ranging from oil tankers to cruise ships in 2019. 

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged lawmakers to speed up the passage of a law creating a new government agency that would focus on Filipino migrant workers, one of his 2016 campaign promises. Duterte said he was also considering calling a separate agency department for seafarers. 

The labor department on Thursday wrote to the Senate to give its "100-percent" support to the OFW department, the proposal for which has been approved by the House of Representatives and is now pending at the Senate committee level, said Aragon. 

The proposed agency will streamline aid for migrant workers, from their pre-employment up to cases of death or sickness abroad, she said. — With a report from The New York Times