Feature: DFA's proposal to ban deployment of seamen
By Aurora J. Casimpan
Tacloban City (February 4) -- The fame of the Filipino seamen cannot be overemphasized.
Today's owners of seafaring vessels worldwide find Filipinos as the best to recruit to man their vessels.
The threat of piracy specifically on the Somali waters have not deterred the employment needs for Filipino seamen. The fact remains that the Philippines tops the list as supplier of seamen aboard oil tankers, luxury liners and passenger vessels worldwide.
Piracy on the high seas has resulted to a lot of Filipino seamen held captives by Somali pirates. A recent report told of the freeing of a Greek-owned ship and its 22-member crew 18 of which were Filipinos, three Greeks and a Romanian.
While there has been no report of captives maltreated by Somali captors, concern for the safety of Filipino seafarers has been a constant for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Said agency has submitted a recommendation to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to ban the deployment of Filipino sailors to seagoing vessels.
The President has yet to act on the recommendation as she needs to weigh the effect of the ban on the loss of revenue and employment opportunities which would ensue. The Department of Labor and Employment has submitted its position on the implementation of the recommended ban on the deployment of seamen.
Piracy happens mostly to vessels plying the African coast. Somali pirates have been the plague of most vessels as the Somalian government has been helpless in stopping some of its nationals in engaging in piracy as a livelihood.
The impoverished nation of Somalia has no steady government which has resulted to some of its citizens engaging in piracy as such activity often command a multi-million dollar ransoms for the release of captured vessels and its crew.
Filipino seamen stand to lose a lucrative means of living should the deployment ban be implemented. On the other hand, captured Filipino seamen cannot be abandoned by the government even if they are the responsibility of their employers.
Truly, the decision whether to ban or not the deployment of seamen is a test weighing on the shoulders of leaders. (PIA-8) [top]