In a joint press conference held on August 13, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and other seafarers’ unions as well as the Joint Manning Group (JMG) have proposed specific measures towards that end.
They would like the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to help ease the shortage of tug boats at the Port of Manila by lending its floating assets in transporting outgoing and inbound seafarers to their respective foreign ships.
The problem over the shortage of tug boats is exacerbated by the large number of ships in Manila Bay’s anchorage area waiting to do crew change and this led to some to take advantage of the situation by jacking up tug boat fees.
During the prescon, initiated by TUCP Partylist Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza, JMG Chairman Roy Alampay revealed that about 40 ships come to Manila Bay daily to disembark crew with finished contracts and replace them with those fresh from vacation.
Also, to bolster the country’s chance to become a crew change hub, TUCP and JMG called the Transportation department to open more ports where crew change is allowed.
As of the moment, the local governments of Bataan and Subic have agreed to open their ports for crew swap after meeting Transportation officials lef by Usec. Raul del Rosario.
Moreover, TUCP and JMG also asked for an increase in the current passenger cap of 3,000 for departures and arrivals in the nation’s airports. At present, Manila is allowed a maximum 3,000 passengers, inbound and outbound combined; Clark and Cebu are allowed only 1,500 passengers each.
The labor and manning groups also called on concerned government agencies the following:
- Revocation of DOLE Department Order 211-A;
- Setting aside a large amount of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act for repatriation costs;
- Provide additional test kits for seafarers, with the cost to be covered by PhilHealth;
- For the Department of Foreign Affairs to arrange for the relaxation of visa requirements for seafarers;
- For the P6 billion social reintegration fund to be paired with technical support to ensure the successful business ventures of seafarers and OFWs.
Also present in the prescon were representatives of the Associated Philippine Seafarers’ Union (APSU), the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), who threw their full support to TUCCCP and JMG’s proposed action plan.