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Monday, February 15, 2010

No Ban On Seafearers To Somalia

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said it's not necessary to ban the deployment involving Filipino seafarers to international flagged ships because interventions are now taking place to handle the negative consequences of piracy-related situations perilous to them and also to the operations of ınternational shipping.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque believed the troubles that brought on the total ban which was suggested to President Macapagal-Arroyo is being addressed with the implementation of a mutual communiqué or understanding forged between the DOLE and seafarers groups, manning and shipping sectors and the International Labour Organization and International Maritime Organization.

Roque considered the stakeholders signed the communiqué during the Anti-Piracy Summit for Filipino Seafarers held last January 8, 2010 at the Amosup Seamen’s Center in Intramuros, Manila.

“We do not recommend the banning of our Filipino seafarers from working in foreign vessels that ply pirate-infested waters in Somalia as interventions on how to deal with the piracy problem have been identified during the anti-piracy summit,” stated Roque noting that the proposed ban would result in Filipino seafarers losing their jobs that surely will affect their families and the Philippine seafaring industry and the economy as well.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised to the President the total ban on the deployment of Filipino seafarers to foreign flagships that ply pirate-infested waters in Somalia.

As provided for by the joint communiqué, three measures are now being carried through for the security of the Filipino seafarers against sea piracy. The procedures cover the formulation of anti-piracy regulations, and the conduct of anti-piracy training and psycho-social counseling for seafarers.

Roque considered that above 200 agencies out of 350 manning firms have handed in their own anti-piracy training modules to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The final approval of the explained modules will be based on the standard training module which the POEA is preparing in coordination with the Maritime Training Center (MTC).

Based on the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 02, Series of 2010, “all manning agencies must require seafarers to undergo training on practical measures to avoid, deter or delay piracy/ attacks prior to deployment.” The anti-piracy training is separate and in addition to the regular Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) conducted for departing seafarers. In addition, manning agencies will have to submit to POEA a list of all the trainees each month indicating the name, date of training and name of company.

Apart from the anti-piracy training, the POEA has also approved a resolution permitting the deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting in pirate-infested locations provided that the ship owners, principals, managers or manning agencies will make sure the vessel will pass within the maritime security patrol area.

The ship owner and manning agencies will also submit proper security measure steps such as security escorts or joining convoy to all ships passing through identified pirate-infested areas.

On the other hand the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be providing psycho-social counselling and other support services to the families who will be victims of piracy.

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