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RP acts to keep standing as world’s main source of seafarers

First Posted 15:26:00 01/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- While the Philippines provides the most number of seafarers in the world -- 30 percent of the international requirement -- only one in three is a ship officer.

For 2008 and beyond, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) seeks to keep the country?s standing as the main source of seamen and upgrade its status in the area of maritime managers and officers.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion on Friday said that to encourage more Filipino seafarers to become maritime officers, his office has come up with the Management Level Course (MLC) for maritime officers and is beefing up its bridging program, which enables a mechanical engineer to become a marine engineer after completing the required period of shipboard duty.

The labor chief said his office is also working with other stakeholders in the industry so that Filipino seafarers will continue to meet the International Maritime Organization?s (IMO) amended Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).

The Philippines is considered the manning capital of the world, with ship owners preferring Filipino seafarers over other nationalities.

A preliminary report of the DoLE?s Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows this trend is unlikely to change. Last year, 263,662 Filipino seafarers were deployed globally, a 21.7-percent rise in total sea-based contracts processed, from 355,327 in 2006 to 432,561 in 2007.

Brion said an average 1,185 seafarers? contracts were processed every day last year.

At the same time, Brion said his office will come up with a Maritime Industry Action Plan for 2008, to be facilitated by the DoLE?s Maritime Office (MO) based on the inputs of key agencies like the POEA, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Brion said the plan will center on enhancing the POEA?s computerization program and recruitment processing; pursuit of an OWWA-supported effort to upgrade the competencies of faculty members of maritime education and training institutions and address the shortage of officers; and implementation of the MLC by the PRC, among others.

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