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Saturday, July 13, 2024

‘Pinoy seafarers can refuse Red Sea, Aden Gulf routes’

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The Department of Migrant Workers seeks to declare the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as “war-like” zones, a move that will allow Filipino seafarers to exercise their “right to refuse” sailing on vessels bound for areas classified as such.

The DMW and the Maritime Industry Tripartite Council of the Philippines recommended to the International Bargaining Forum the classification of the southern portion of the Red Sea and the entire Gulf of Aden as “war-like zones.”

“Our seafarers are not soldiers or military personnel and we cannot allow them to risk their safety and lives by operating in areas with conditions similar to a war situation,” DMW officer-in-charge Hans Leo Cacdac said.

“The DMW and MITC prioritizes the safety and rights of seafarers, who should be made fully aware of their assigned routes and the potential dangers involved. At the same time, they should be protected from discrimination or withheld compensation for exercising their right to refuse sailing,” he added.

The push came in the wake of continued missile and drone attacks launched by Huthi rebels sympathetic to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. At least two Filipino seafarers have been killed in similar incidents in the Gulf of Aden.

The IBF is the forum that brings together the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the international maritime employers that make up the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG).

Cacdac said the DMW will institute several mechanisms and processes within its regulatory ambit that shall allow Filipino seafarers to exercise their “right to refuse” sailing on vessels bound for areas classified as “war-like zones.”

Among others, shipping companies and licensed manning agencies shall be required to register as a “significant event” the passage of any of their ships to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden through the DMW electronic Overseas Welfare Monitoring System.

Failure to report such a significant event opens the shipping principal and manning agency to appropriate sanctions.

“The DMW shall open an electronic portal as well as dedicated hotlines through which our seafarers may inform the department that they are exercising their right to refuse sailing,” Cacdac said.

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