Beginning January next year, all Filipino seafarers would undergo training to prepare themselves against pirate abduction in the high seas, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) announced Thursday.
The training, which is not expected to last more than a day, is aligned with the module of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners and will begin on Jan. 15, POEA chief Jennifer Manalili said.
According to Manalili, the module would be conducted outside the existing pre-departure orientation seminar so that it would be more “thorough and extensive.”
“And this would not have additional cost for the seafarers. It will be shouldered by the manning agency,” said Manalili.
The labor department said piracy in Somalia, notably the Gulf of Aden, has come to an alarming proportion in recent months.
There are 68 Filipino seafarers still being held by pirates in Somalia and Nigeria. All of them remain locked up in six vessels while waiting for the results of negotiations between shipowners and the abductors.
A third of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos, making them the most at risk to pirate abductions.
On Thursday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) met with manning agency leaders and seafarer union groups to discuss various issues confronting kidnap-prone Filipino seafarers, including psycho-social counseling for and support services for the abducted and their families as well as financial assistance.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said kidnapping has become an unfortunate reality for the 350,000 Filipino seafarers all over the world.
Roque admitted that despite the safety measures they have set in place, they cannot do anything to halt Somali pirates from kidnapping in the high seas. Since Somalia’s central government collapsed in 1991, Somali’s have been lured to banditry as a primary source of income.
“I was discussing with shipowners that the issue in the Gulf will reach unreasonable proportions that they have to change their route,” Roque said during a tripartite meeting with the Maritime industry in Manila.
Amid the threat of kidnappings in the high seas, Filipino seafarers remitted a record $2.502 billion from January to September this year.
Filipino seafarers’ remittances accounted for 20 percent of the aggregate remittances from all overseas Filipino workers in the nine-month period. – Joseph Holandes Ubalde/RSJ, GMANews.TV
|RP seafarers to undergo mandatory anti-piracy training Jan. 2010
GMA news.tv – Quezon City,Metro Manila,Philippines