Filipino seafarers are among the bravest in the world, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Sunday.
Bello extolled the seafarers as he led officials in extending a warm welcome for the two survivors of the ill-fated cargo ship that sank off the turbulent waters of southern Japan early this month.
Bello also lauded Chief officer Eduardo Sareno and deck crew Jay-nel Rosales for their courage and will to survive the violent seas.
“I admire the never-say-die attitude of our seamen in the face of great danger, a trait common to many Filipinos particularly our OFWs,” Bello said. “Filipino seafarers are one of the bravest in the world. That’s why many employers prefer their company at sea,” he added.
Sareno and Rosales were flown home Saturday via Philippine Airlines from Tokyo after undergoing medical checkups and spending weeks in hotel quarantine in accordance with health protocols in Japan to prevent the spread of corona virus. The two are awaiting their Covid test results before they are brought to their hometowns.
The two were rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard days after Panamanian-registered M/V Livestock 1 experienced engine trouble in high seas amid one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in years. The rest, except one, in the 43-man crew of the cargo vessel remain missing without a trace, according to Coast Guard of Japan.
The remains of Filipino crewman Joel Canete Linao were flown home on Friday.
Bello said the government will provide full support to the two survivors and the families of Linao and the still missing seafarers.
“They will get help from government in the form of livelihood assistance and other benefits,” Bello said. “We are also looking at possible job opportunities for them in other shipping companies in case they want to get back at work as soon as possible,” he added.
The Labor Department has started coordinating with foreign employers who are in need of overseas Filipino workers, Bello said. These are companies in countries where restrictions have been eased due to improving health conditions, he added.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Department said on Monday that some 127 Filipino seafarers are still awaiting repatriation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay said that they have already requested for assistance from several countries to facilitate the repatriation of the sea-based Filipino workers.
But Dulay admitted that the repatriation of the stranded seafarers abroad have been hampered by some countries that disallowed the entry of foreign ships with Filipino crew on board.
“There are other countries that actually have their borders closed and they have not allowed flights yet,” Dulay said.
Since February, the DFA has already repatriated 61,716 sea-based overseas Filipino workers.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DFA to seek out Filipino seafarers who are stranded abroad.
This situation was made worse given that foreign ports would not allow these Filipinos to step ashore, leaving them ill and stranded aboard ships out at sea, he said.
“A human being should never, never be a commodity that is just left behind to rot. These are human beings and Filipinos,” Duterte said.
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