Vatican official warns of ‘better’ China seamen


Filipino seafarers should improve more their competitiveness because China is now emerging as the world’s top producer of seamen, according to a top Vatican official who conducts apostolate in this sector.

“While many companies still prefer Filipino seafarers, China has now produced the most number of seafarers qualified for international shipping, according to a recent report issued by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS),” according to Fr. Bruno Ciceri, representative of the Apostleship of the Sea International at the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

“The Chinese are now taking over and there are other nationalities that are coming forward especially for the officers and Filipinos should work double time,” Cicero said at the 21st National Seafarer’s Day celebration held at the SMX at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City (Metro Manila) on Sunday afternoon.

The priest added that while the Philippine is still the top supplier of ratings, it has lagged behind China in producing officers who will be needed in the next ten years.

According to a BIMCO/ICS report, there is a current shortfall of 16,500 for officers and it has been estimated that the world will need 92,000 officers in 2020 and 147,500 more in 2025.

There is, on the other hand, a surplus of ratings in the 116,000 figure.

“There are many Filipino ratings but for Filipino officers, we have less. We need more Filipino officers and I would advise Filipinos to work hard to improve their capacity to become officers because that is what is lacking in the world [maritime industry],” Ciceri said.

The Philippines had long held the position of being the world’s capital source of seafarers with some 367,000 Filipino seafarers deployed all over the world.

Filipino seafarers are the top choice in the international maritime industry because of their industry, compassion, resilience and good grasp of the English language.

Ciceri was guest of honor in this year’s celebration of the Seafarer’s Day with the theme “Marinong Pilipino: Tatak ng Kahusayan.”

The event, attended by some 4,000 seafarers and maritime students and their families, was co-sponsored by the Apostleship of the Sea, the Committee on the National Seafarer’s Day and SM Global Pinoy to give importance to the invaluable contribution of the Filipino seafaring community to the country.

Some 60 foreign delegates of the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) arrived in the country to enable them to know the culture in order for them to assist Filipino seafarers anywhere in the globe.

Cicire and his ICMA companions will spend a week in the Philippines to meet Filipino seafarers, maritime officials and students and conduct lectures. “Many of the delegates are here in the Philippines for the first time and it is a learning experience for them.”

The National Seafarer’s Day is an annual event that is celebrated every last Sunday of September under Presidential Proclamation 828.

“The aim of this occasion is to give due recognition to the vital role played by the thousands of Filipino seafarers toward the development of the Philippines as a maritime country,” Glenn Ang, senior vice president for operations and program director of SM Global Pinoy, said.


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