Vice President Jejomar Binay and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday joined the international community in celebrating the Day of the Seafarer, but also highlighted the need for the better protection of the rights and welfares of Filipino seafarers.
The United Nations, upon the recommendation of the International Maritime Organization, recognized the contribution of the seafarers by declaring June 25 of each year as the Day of the Seafarer.
“As a means to promote the welfare of our seafarers, I urge all concerned bodies to implement the needed structural and policy changes to fully comply with the amended 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers,” Binay said in a statement.
The convention includes baseline standards for the education and training of seafarers to make them globally and internationally competent.
Although the European Union has given the Philippines “reprieve” from following the convention, Binay said, the country must not be complacent.
“Let us, instead, focus on further improving the skillset of our seafarers and in maintaining a high quality of education in our training schools,” the Vice President, who is also the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) concerns, said.
In early May, the EU granted an extension for the Philippines to comply to the standards set by the convention.
The Philippines’ compliance will affect some 82,000 Filipino seafarers working in EU-flagged vessels.
Binay cited the country’s seamen’s “technical expertise, voluntary spirit, exceptional dedication and heroism” in the face of physical and psychological danger and separation from their loved ones.
He thanked the seafarers for “helping the flow of goods in the global economy” and contributing “to our nation’s economy through their remittances.”
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs department also joined the international maritime community in commemorating the Day of the Seafarer.
For this year’s celebration, the department said the country adopted the theme “Pinoy Seafarers: Proudly Moving the World.”
Shipping, the department said, is responsible for moving 90 percent of international trade and accounts only for 3 percent of greenhouse gas emission.
“It remains as the most environmentally friendly mode of transporting goods worldwide,” it added.
Relatedly, Binay said the Philippines was both able and duty-bound to help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other Asian states in crafting bilateral and multilateral agreements to protect migrant workers.
He recalled the agreement in 2012 between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia to implement a standard employment contract that provides for higher compensation and better working conditions and benefits for newly hired Filipino household workers, which he said provides a solution from a government dimension.