The maritime sector of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), consisting of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), has facilitated the arrival of approximately 1000 Filipino crew members aboard MV “Norwegian Encore” at the Port of Manila on April 11, 2021.
The cruise ship will also serve as a quarantine facility for seafarers.
The seafarers underwent profiling from the Department of Health (DOH), mandatory quarantine, and testing protocols set by the national government before their disembarkation.
PPA Port Manager Eligio P. Fortajada of Port Management Office (PMO) NCR-South said the vessel will be used as the quarantine facility under the strict supervision of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).
Fortajada, the head of the One-Stop Shop for Seafarers in the Port of Manila (OSS-POM) assured seafarers of assistance from the government.
Based on the crew change protocol, the seafarers will undergo swab testing on the sixth day of their quarantine proper, which will be handled by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the First Aide Molecular Laboratory, the RT-PCR molecular testing laboratory authorized by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
The expenses for the swab tests will be subsidized through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as Republic Act No. 1149, which will be facilitated by the PPA. Doctors and nurses, who are all under the supervision of BOQ, will be onsite to assist the seafarers.
The government has allotted P 270 million for the free RT-PCR testing of returning Filipino seafarers to alleviate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the seafaring industry.
The Philippines, the crew change capital in the world will provide world-class services to international vessels needing fresh crew onboard amid the pandemic. The government is ensuring that health and safety protocols are strictly observed to help prevent and manage the continued threat of the COVID-19 disease.
Filipino seafarers are declared key workers globally and locally, thus they need to be prioritized, as declared by the joint resolution of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO).