POEA assures repatriation, assistance to 17 Pinoy seafarers stranded in China

Marje Pelayo   •   June 25, 2021   •   730

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Friday (June 25) assured the public that the 17 Filipino seafarers who got stranded in China will be repatriated at the soonest possible time.

This was announced by POEA administrator Bernard Olalia during the Laging Handa press briefing, referring to the 17 Filipino crew members of Greek-flagged bulk carrier MV Angelic Power who have been at sea for 17 months and counting.

The vessel has been grounded following a conflict between the vessel’s owner Angeliki Dynamic Investment Corp. and the cargo receiver Guangzhou South China Coal Trade Center Co.

“Ang kanilang manning agency, ang Magsaysay Manning Agency, ay nakipag-ugnayan na sa ating ahensya. Binigyan po natin sila ng instruction na agarang tumulong doon sa 17 seafarers na natengga na sila doon,” Olalia said.

“Napakatagal na nila doon. Na-deploy po sila last year bago ang pandemic. May mga restrictions lamang po sa bansang China kaya nakipag-ugnayan din tayo sa Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) upang ayusin ang kanilang documentation at i-schedule po ang kanilang flight para makabalik sa Pilipinas,” he noted.

The official added that the seafarers’ manning agency has assured the POEA that the 17 stranded Filipino seafarers will be provided compensation pending their repatriation.

“Inatasan na rin natin ang manning agency involved na ibigay ang mga sustento, ang mga food and sustenance nila upang hindi sila magutom sa kanilang barko,” Olalia assured.

“Ibibigay ang kanilang monthly salary kahit tapos na ang kanilang employment period. Ang kanilang pamilya ay tatanggap po ng allotment. Ipapadala po ng manning agency ang sweldo ng ating mga seafarers sa kani-kanilang pamilya hangga’t hindi pa po sila nakakabalik dito,” he added.

The official noted that from 15,000 seafarers deployed in January this year, the number increased to 30,000 in May which is closer to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic level of at least 40,000 a year.

DOLE denies deployment ban on health care workers

Maris Federez   •   November 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)  has denied reports of a deployment ban on health care workers, particularly nurses.

In a statement, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified that since the deployment cap of 6,500 has already been reached, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) announced the temporary suspension of deployment.

However, there are exemptions to the said ban.

“We have already reached the current ceiling of 6,500 on the deployment of health care workers. However, OFWs under the Balik Manggagawa, government-to-government arrangements, and those who will be deployed in the United Kingdom are exempted from the suspension,” Bello said.

The labor chief also said that the lifting of the suspension is subject to the evaluation by concerned government agencies of the current situation on the deployment of healthcare workers.

“The Labor Department will confer the matter with the Professional Regulation Commission, the Philippines Nurses Association and the Department of Health should there be a need for the increase of say, another 1,500 in the existing cap,” Bello said. —/mbmf

PCG boosts recruitment to strengthen PH maritime security

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is continuously recruiting to achieve the ideal number of 72,000 personnel in order to fully execute its mandate of protecting the country’s 36,000 kilometer long coastline.

The PCG said there have been sightings of Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG Commandant VADM Leopoldo Laroya said tensions between PCG personnel and Chinese mariners do occur at times.

“Mayroon pakonti-konti na nilalapitan ng [Philippine] Coast Guard. We also maintain a constant patrol in the area and when challenged, they sometimes challenge our challenge but in the end they leave,” he said.

The PCG was able to increase its force from 7,000 personnel in 2016 to 20,600 coast guards this year.

In 2021 alone, the PCG was able to hire around 4,000 new recruits.

In the next five years, the agency is confident of having around 36,000 personnel.

Aside from border security, the PCG is also focused on assisting all returning overseas Filipinos.

“Marami kaming tao na nagkaka-COVID pero meron din namang kapalit. And all our people are being taken care of,” Laroya assured.

As for seafarers, the Maritime Industry Authority (MIA) through the Commission on Higher Eduction (CHED) is requesting the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow face-to-face classes for maritime students.

The agency said the pandemic has prevented the industry from producing new seafarer-graduates for two years in a row.

“Hanggang ngayon hindi allowed yung ODT aboardship. So habang wala pang guidance to allow it, then we will continue not to graduate our Filipino seafarers,” explained MIA Administrator VADM Robert Empedrad.

The official said it is still to the advantage of the Philippines to have sufficient number of seafarers for its local maritime operations. MNP (with Rey Pelayo)

Oman to lift travel restriction for Filipino OFWs, travelers — POEA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The government of Oman has lifted the travel ban on Filipino overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and travelers, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

During a virtual public briefing on Tuesday (June 22), POEA Administrator Atty. Bernard Olalia said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has met with the Omani ambassador to discuss the travel restrictions.

“Dahil po nagkaliwanagan na, nagkaroon po kami ng pagpipirma ng undertaking na ili-lift na po ng Omani government ang kanilang restriction to travel ng ating mga OFWs at Filipino travelers going to Oman,” he said.

(Because it has been clarified, there was a signing of an undertaking that the Omani government will lift their travel restriction on OFWs and Filipino travelers going to Oman.)

There was a temporary suspension of deployment of OFWs to Oman after the country included the Philippines in its travel ban amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The POEA is waiting for the official document from Oman before issuing any directive regarding the lifting of the suspension.

Based on the data of the POEA, 25,000 OFWs were deployed to Oman before the pandemic. It decreased to only 5,000 from January this year.

“Tayo naman po sa POEA inatasan tayo ni Secretary Bello na i-lift ang temporary deployment suspension sa madaling salita po kapag nagkaroon na ng lifitng sa Oman at tayo po ay nag-lift na ora mismo makakapagpadala na tayo ulit ng OFWs sa Oman,” Olalia said.

(We, at the POEA, were ordered by Secretary Bello to lift the temporary deployment suspension. So, we will lift the suspension immediately so that we can send OFWs to Oman.) AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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