Sen. Grace Poe said the Philippines still has time to work on the shortcomings in the training and certification of Filipino seafarers.
“The mere fact that they (European Union) have been accommodating and have not given us a definitive timeline, I know they appreciate the process we are undertaking at the moment,” Poe said during the plenary deliberations of the Senate on the budget of the Department of Transportation.
Based on Poe’s proposed budget amendment earlier, the Senate increased the Maritime Industry Authority’s allocation for “monitoring and enforcement of maritime laws and regulations” by P56.7 million or from P20,947,000 based on the 2023 National Expenditure Program to P80,693,000 to ensure the country’s compliance with international maritime standards.
At present, the European Union (EU) has not disqualified Filipino seafarers from their shipping lines and the Philippines’ accreditation has not been revoked. However, the EU has identified areas that the country will need to take corrective action such as education, training and certification, among others.
“We are still accredited but we need to work on this because if not, the employment of 49,461 Filipino marine officers will be in jeopardy and the employment of almost 600,000 certificated Filipino seafarers, including officers, will also be affected,” Poe said.
Poe said the EU is giving the country the opportunity to address its deficiencies.
“We were not given a real timeline. What is important for the EU is that they see an effort to comply and it is an ongoing process,” Poe said.
According to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Filipino sea-based workers sent a total of $6.5 billion in remittances to their families in the country in 2021. From January to September this year, their remittances have amounted to $4.92 billion, a 1.8% increase over the $4.8 billion they sent home in the same period in 2021.
“Without being too presumptuous or arrogant about this, without the Filipino seafarers, I don’t think the maritime industry will be able to function properly. If we are not at the top, we are probably at the Top 3 of those supplying seafarers,” Poe said.
Meanwhile, hospital beds are still lacking despite the decline in the number of Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
Senator JV Ejercito said under the Universal Health Care Law (UHCL), the recommended ratio is 1:800 or one hospital for every 800 individuals.
But Cayetano said we are not far from our ASEAN counterpart like Vietnam which ratio is 2.4:1,000 while the Philippines is 1:1,000 or one hospital bed for every 1,000 population.
Ejercito hopes to address the lack of hospital beds next year.