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Friday, March 20, 2009

RP, Japan agree to train Filipino seafarers while global economy is down

The Philippines has entered into an agreement with the transport ministry of Japan to provide for the skills training and upgrading of Filipino seafarers employed in international vessels which have been idled or laid-up due to the global economic downturn, the Department of Labor and Employment said.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that during his recent trip to Japan, he signed the Memorandum of Cooperation on Development of Asian Seafarers with Minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism to seal the agreement providing for the training of Filipino seafarers under the International Cooperative Training Project for Asian Seafarers.

Roque was in Tokyo last week for the signing and also to represent the country, along with tripartite partners from the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) and the Philippine-Japan Consultative Council, at the Philippine-Japan Seafarer Policy Forum to seek for the preservation of the jobs of over 40,000 Filipino seafarers employed in Japanese vessels.

He implored on the Japanese ship owners to keep the Filipino seafarers on-board even as their ships could be laid-up due to lack or absence of demand for cargo. He said that cargo ships forced to dock at ports for longer periods due to the economic crisis still need manpower for ship maintenance.

At the same time, DOLE Chief called on the Japan Seaman’s Union (JSU) to lend a hand in the provision of social safety nets to other Filipino seafarers who may not be able to remain on board Japanese vessels due to the crisis. Members of the union, he said, include about 35,000 to 45,000 Filipino seamen.

He thanked the JSU for its willingness to study the possibility of giving livelihood assistance for Filipino seafarers who may be forced to go on vacation while cargo demand is nil.
Roque also cited the Japan transport ministry for the training project it would implement in collaboration with DOLE, saying the project would help address the global shortage of skilled seafarers and qualified officers by training and upgrading the skills of Filipino seafarers especially those who may have to go home for vacation while their vessels are laid up.

He said the training would be an opportunity for Filipino seafarers affected by the crisis to train and upgrade their skills while waiting for their return on board.

“This will enable us to develop our seafarers particularly as vessel officers who are in short supply and badly needed by the international seafaring industry,” Roque said, adding “once the global cargo trading resumes its robustness, our seafarers would be in a better footing to land in better paying positions and pay on board.”

Under the agreement, the DOLE and the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism would jointly implement the training project with the latter providing for technical, funding, and human resources. The former, on the other hand, will seek the support of manning agencies and maritime training schools for the implementation of the project.

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