THE cash Filipinos working on foreign ships sent home through banks is projected to top the $6-billion mark this year amid mounting deployment, an opposition party-list congressman predicted yesterday.
“The number of Philippine-educated sailors and other staff deployed on foreign ocean-going vessels, including those on cruise ships and floating casinos, is likely to surpass the 500,000-mark for the first time this year,” said House Deputy Minority Leader and ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto ‘John’ Bertiz III as the world celebrated International Day of the Seafarer Monday.
“We expect the enlistment of Filipino sailors to increase along with international ship traffic, as the global economy continues to expand,” said Bertiz.
Out of every $100 in personal cash remittance that the Philippines receives from Filipinos abroad, $20 comes from a sailor sending money to his family here, said Bertiz.
Citing figures from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Bertiz said Filipino sailors sent home via banks a total of $1.934 billion from January to April this year.
Bertiz however warned of a “potential downside” due to the review being conducted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the Philippines’ compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
Failure to pass the EMSA review may adversely affect the deployment of some 80,000 Filipino sailors on European merchant ships, the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines said.
The EMSA has been questioning the capability of the Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to ensure enforcement of the STCW, which sets minimum qualification standards for ship masters, officers and watch personnel.
“We are counting on Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero to manage the risks associated with EMSA’s audit and to build up compliance,” said Bertiz.
Guerrero recently retired as Armed Forces Chief of Staff and assumed his new post as MARINA administrator only on April 30.
The biggest employers of Filipino sailors are international shipping operators based in the United States, Germany, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Norway, Cyprus, Switzerland, South Korea and Liberia.
Filipino sailors serve on bulk carriers, container ships, oil, gas, chemical and other product tankers, general cargo ships, pure car carriers and tugboats around the world.
A growing number of Filipinos also provide housekeeping, guest relations, culinary, front office and other maintenance services on cruise ships and floating casinos.