Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is set to issue an Executive Order (EO) establishing protocols for the return of Cebuano seafarers stranded abroad. This is in support to the activation of a crew change hub in Cebu by the Department of Transportation (DoTr).
“Ito ay ini-introduce natin kay Governor Gwen yung pagtatayo natin dito sa Cebu nang crew change hub as part of our national commitment para i-allow natin yung mga seafarers natin na makauwi sa ating bansa at para naman mapapalitan sila ng mga seafarers na sumakay naman ulit,” DoTr Assistant Secretary Narciso Vingson, Jr. said in a courtesy call with the governor on Thursday, September 24.
The activation of a crew change hub aims to help address the need for fresh set of crew workforce in ships and ensure the health, safety, and welfare of seafarers who have been out in the sea since Covid-19 pandemic started.
Based on International Labor Organization (ILO) 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC), the maximum period a seafarer has to serve on board a vessel is 11 months only, Vingson said.
“Because if more than 11 months, it will be harmful to their physical and mental health. Magkakaroon ng stress at fatigue and depression kung sobra na sila sa paglalayag nila sa barko,” he stressed.
The transportation official added that a crew change hub will be set up in Cebu as many of the Filipino seafarers come from this province and Visayas region.
He assured that strict implementation of health and safety protocols in accordance with the Inter-Agency and Task Force (IATF) and the local government unit (LGU) guidelines will be followed in the hub.
Garcia informed the DoTr officials that Cebu already has protocols and guidelines in place that ensure the return of Overseas Filipino Workers to their home LGUs.
She added that these protocols have been followed by the LGUs including the local officials’ responsibility to pick up their returning constituents from the quarantine facility.
Another EO outlining the protocols for returning seafarers will be issued, she said, and will be echoed to the mayors as well.
While there are no exact number of returning seafarers yet, Vingson said there are over 80,000 Filipino seafarers stranded abroad and over 300,000 seafarers stranded in the Philippines.
“Ang datingan nila (seafarers) ay depende yon sa approval ng provincial government ng protocol natin. Kung ganon kabilis siguro isang lingo mula ngayon, para ma-allow na natin ang seafarers natin na taga Cebu para makauwi na sa kanilang bayan,” he said. (Mylen Manto)