Recognizing the contribution of seafarers to the economy of the Philippines, dubbed the “crewing capital of the world,” the Aquino administration on Thursday vowed to provide more scholarships for the children of mariners.
President Benigno Aquino III made the statement in a speech read by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz at the 1st International Seafarer Family Convention (ISFC) in Pasay City.
“The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will increase the number scholarships for seafarers’ dependents. Tutugunan natin ang mga pangangailangan nila dahil nire-recognize natin ‘yung itinulong nila sa ekonomiya,” Baldoz said in an interview with GMA News Online after delivering Aquino’s speech.
The ISFC is the first gathering of seafarers’ families that intends to strengthen the ties of every member of the household. It is also a tribute for the contributions and support of the families of seafarers who have put the Philippines into the map of maritime world.
According to a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report, seafarers help keep the Philippine economy afloat with record remittances reaching $3.8 billion in 2010, higher by 12 percent from the amount of money sent by mariners in 2009.
In the message read by Baldoz, Aquino cited the Philippines as the “crewing capital of world” as it emerges as the world’s biggest supplier of international ship crews.
“Our countrymen comprise 30 percent of the 1.25 million people working on ships. At any given time, there are about 300,000 Filipino seafarers aboard vessels — from cruise liners to oil rigs,” the President elaborated.
Aquino said more and more young Filipinos are heading out to sea as the number of employment contracts approved for seafarers consistently rises every year.
He likewise said the international manning principals have called Filipino seamen their “preferred choice” because of their outstanding qualities: technical knowledge, flexibility, reliability, trustworthiness, hard work, and their command of the English language.
Aquino said the Philippine government will raise the number of welfare officers and counselors who conduct regular visitations to seafarers’ families.
“Your government is also including family members in the pre-departure orientation sessions for seafarers, so they can be armed with a better knowledge of the risks and opportunities involved in seafaring,” Aquino said.
The President added that the government’s “22-Point Labor Policy Agenda,” “Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016,” and “Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016″ will continue to guide policymakers in ensuring that the seafarer and his family get the best social protection from the present administration.
“We shall not fail you,” Baldoz said, quoting the President.
“They are our sailing ambassadors, demonstrating before the global maritime community the traits that make the Filipino people great workers,” Aquino pointed out.
“The job of a seafarer is not an easy one. The difficulties and dangers you encounter on the job are compounded by the loneliness of spending months on the high seas separated from your families,” he added. — VVP, GMA News