The Bureau of Immigration facilitated the departure of hundreds of seafarers aboard cruise ships docked at the Port of Manila following the restrictions and global lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019, which led many of them to stay in their ships for several weeks.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente ordered Seaport Operations Section Chief Alnazib Decampong to speed up the process of documentation and stamping of foreign and Filipino seafarers’ passports so they could return to their respective countries and destinations.
The MV Norwegian Encore Cruise ship docked at Pier 15, Port of Manila that had 1,046 Filipino and foreign crews are currently under mandatory quarantine.
“As of April 11, the Immigration, Bureau of Quarantine, the Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Transportation and the Philippine Ports Authority worked together under the One-stop Shop” to hasten the processing of the departure of foreign seafarers aboard the MV Norwegian Encore Cruise ship,” according to Usman Abinal, BI-Bay Service section deputy chief.
All Filipinos and foreign crews were swabbed tested for COVID 19 and those testing positive would be immediately transferred to the Manila Hotel for quarantine while those with negative results would be assisted for their return home, Abinal said.
He said another cruise ship, the MV Charming, would be arriving in Manila next week.
“The country is becoming a crew change hub because a large number of global seafarers are from the Philippines,” Abinal said.
According to BI report, the Philippines has processed more than 112,000 seafarers for crew changes last year and most of them have already joined their ships.
Morente says the bureau is supporting all government attempts at making the Philippines an international crew change hub.