ACCORDING to data from various government and industry sources, there are approximately 1.6 million seafarers manning 50,000 commercial shipping currently operating around the world. Of these 1.6 million workers, about 230,000 of them - about 14.4 percent - are from the Philippines, making them the largest group (closely followed by seafarers from India) among the world's maritime workforce.

What the government and the public here does not seem to be aware of, however, is that these hardworking men and women are in the midst of a crisis of grave proportions, putting their livelihoods, their well-being and the well-being of their families in jeopardy.

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