DE LA SALLE-COLLEGE OF SAINT BENILDE

Filipino Seafarers
A Special Breed of OFWs
Patrick C. Agonias 9/28/2012

The paper will mainly discuss about Filipino Seafarers as a special type of overseas worker. Also, the paper will show the difference between these overseas workers from the rest of the OFWs in terms of several factors. Lastly, the paper will also show why is there a notion on why the Filipino seafarers are considered the best in the world.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents....................................................................................................... 2 Chapter 1................................................................................................................ 4 Introduction............................................................................................................. 4 Historical Background.............................................................................................4 Pre-Colonial Period .................................................................................................4 Spanish Period.........................................................................................................4 American and Commonwealth Period.....................................................................5 Japanese Period.......................................................................................................6 Contemporary Period..............................................................................................6 ............................................................................................................................... 6 Chapter II................................................................................................................. 7 The Global Maritime Trend Today...........................................................................7 Deployment of Seafarers by Top 10 Flags of Registries (2007-2010).....................8 Selected Sea based Statistics (2004-2010).............................................................9 Deployment of Seafarers by Top 10 Occupational Categories (2007-2010)............9 Deployment of Seafarers by Category (2007-2010)..............................................10 Deployment of Seafarers by Top 10 Vessel Types (2007-2010)............................11 Average Salary of the Filipino Seafarer in US dollars (2007).................................11 Deployed Seafarers by Gender (2006-2007).........................................................12 Chapter III.............................................................................................................. 13 The Filipino Seafarer A Special Breed of OFWs......................................................13 The Philippine’s Maritime Policies and Regulations...............................................14 Education.............................................................................................................. 15 Crewing agencies and Seafarer Recruitment........................................................16

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Union Membership of Seafarers............................................................................17 Preference to Filipino Seafarers............................................................................17 Problems Encountered by Seafarers.....................................................................18 Family ................................................................................................................... 18 Health....................................................................................................................19 Accidents...............................................................................................................19 Government Inefficiencies.....................................................................................20 Discrimination and Maltreatment..........................................................................21 Voting Rights......................................................................................................... 21 Chapter IV.............................................................................................................22 Conclusion............................................................................................................. 22 References............................................................................................................23

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Chapter 1

Introduction
Historical Background

Pre-Colonial Period Being an archipelagic state, it is imperative that the Republic of the Philippines must have a strong maritime industry. Looking back in history, the Filipinos already has a very rich seafaring tradition. Although during the pre-colonial times, there was no formal institution, yet there is already a strong tradition that has been passed down from generations. This included the building of small wooden vessels all the way to navigating the seas. It was mainly a way of life among the early Filipinos, in which they use their maritime know-how to fish, dive for nautical riches such as pearls and even trading from one island to another (Agoncillio, 1991). When it came especially to trading, the boats are loaded with several cargos ranging from spices to precious materials such as gold and jewellery. More importantly, this early seafarers became in a sense the first envoys of the Philippines, when they started trading with other nations such as the Malays and the Chinese. These envoys apart from trading, they also sent tributes to the leaders of these nations (Zaide, 1994).

Spanish Period By the time the Spaniards arrived in the shores of Mactan in 1521, the Philippines have strong maritime culture. When Spain finally conquered the Philippines on 1564 the maritime

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industry was monopolized, but Filipinos were still able to participate in it through the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco. This gave Filipinos the advantage to learn about the new maritime vessels and technology widely used at that time (Agoncillo, 1991; Owen, 1993). However during the early decades of the 19th century, due to the economic changes of the times, there came a need for more maritime personnel, since Spain was losing its competitiveness to other European powers such as France, Russia and Britain. It was only then that the Spanish monarchy issued a decree on 1820, that a formal maritime institution were to be established. It was named as the Escuela Nautica de Manila (Sabay, 2012). The school was temporarily closed in 1898, during the Philippine Revolution. Most of the graduates joined the forces of Aguinaldo and with which the Philippine Navy was established. Most of the operations were conducted in the Visayas and some parts of Luzon and Mindanao (Pobre, 2000).

American and Commonwealth Period After the Spaniards, the Americans came and took over the Philippines, the Escuela Nautica was reopened in 1899 and renamed into the Nautical School of the Philippine Islands. The school was improved and adopted to newer technologies as the maritime industry of the world was also evolving. In 1907 was temporarily closed again by the civil government, but was reopened again in 1913 at the insistence of the Philippine Ship Owner’s Association (Sabay 2012).

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Japanese Period During the outbreak of WWII with the invasion of the Japanese of the islands, the graduates of the institution took up arms and aided in the defence of the country, especially during the Battle of Bataan. Although the Japanese was eventually took over the islands, the Nautical School was not closed, but rather expanded to only train maritime officers, but also engineers and ordinary seaman as well (Sabay, 2012; Pobre, 2000).

Contemporary Period After the war, with the independence of the Philippines on 1946 the Nautical School of the Philippine Islands was renamed into the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy. Aside from the PMMA, the Philippine Maritime Institution was founded by Atty. Tomas Cloma and was the first privately owned maritime school (Philippine Maritime Institute Colleges, n.d.; Sabay, 2012; Pobre, 2000). From then on countless maritime schools were also established around the country. As a result, the Philippines have become a large supplier of maritime personnel in the global maritime industry. With tradition and centuries of experience the Filipino seafarers became regarded as the best in the world according to international shipping companies, the Philippines in turn has become a major competitor in the global maritime industry (Sabay, 2012).

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Chapter II The Global Maritime Trend Today

In the past the global maritime industry was composed of locally-trained Western maritime nations and it is often correlated with the number of registered ships. Countries such as Russia, Norway, Greece, the United Kingdom, and United States of America have mostly dominated the number of registered fleets in the industry. However, by the advent of globalization, with stiff competition and higher costs, several ship that are mostly western owned are now registered far from their origins and its crews are now dominantly composed of non-western countries like China, Japan and South Korea. Often they are from developing states such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Thailand and among others (Cullinane, 2005). Number and Nationality of the World’s Seafarers (2012)

Source: (International Chamber of Shipping , 2012) 7

In effect, the combined merchant fleets of developed states have been declining. These traditionally-powerful maritime nations of the West were now just powerful on paper or just under their “flag” administration. Therefore, it is no surprise that western vessels today are often registered in developing states (Cullinane, 2005).

The Philippines along with other states, especially in the Asian region has took advantage of this and have now became a vast source of maritime personnel such as officers and ratings. Below the table will show just how many Filipino seafarers have been deployed to be employed in these international shipping companies.

Deployment of Seafarers by Top 10 Flags of Registries (2007-2010) 2007 2008 2009 All Flags of Registry - Total Panama Bahamas Liberia Marshal Island Singapore Malta Italy United Kingdom Netherlands Bermuda 51,619 29,681 21,966 9,772 10,308 7,513 6,403 8,172 7,017 6,274 53,912 29,177 21,632 11,859 12,130 11,025 5,677 8,232 7,796 5,727 67,361 36,054 29,796 18,068 15,674 14,786 8,486 10,313 7,281 7,620 226,900 244,144 329,728

2010 339,608

66,523 41,814 32,561 21,824 16,417 16,971 11,927 11,805 9,602 9,562

Source: (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 2010) 8

Selected Sea based Statistics (2004-2010)
2004 Deployed Seafarers Processed Contracts of Seafarers Newly Registered Seafarers Accredited Sea based Principals New Vessels Enrolled Newly Liscensed Manning Agencies Renewed Licenses of Manning Agencies 229,002 294,866 2005 247,983 305,297 2006 274,497 355,327 2007 266,553 389,607 2008 261,614 458,757 2009 330,424 435,515 2010 347,150 438,866

25,782

25,802

29,400

31,709

40,509

38,067

45,757

1,727

875

871

1,159

1,542

1,253

1,112

1,694

2,035

2,501

3,012

2,551

2,340

2,496

6

8

18

14

14

15

17

170

62

6

63

146

68

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Source: (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 2010)

Deployment of Seafarers by Top 10 Occupational Categories (2007-2010)
2007 All Occupational Categories-Total Able Seaman Oiler 226,900 31,818 19,491 2008 244,144 34,563 20,941 2009 329,728 45,338 27,483 2010 339,608 47,864 28,523

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Ordinary Seaman Chief Cook Second Mate Bosun Messman Third Engineer Officer Third Mate Second Engineer Officer

17,355 7,778 7,873 7,737 7,810 7,056 6,559 6,369

18,715 9,022 8,694 8,694 8,320 7,995 7,349 6,878

2,737 12,661 12,661 12,119 10,536 11,307 9,857 9,557

24,794 13,252 1,252 12,039 11,238 11,695 10,025 9,948

Source: (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 2010)

Deployment of Seafarers by Category (2007-2010) 2007 2008 Total Officer Rating Non-Marine 226,900 51,353 137,740 35,807 244,144 57,773 98,720 87,651

2009 329,728 78,893 92,027 158,808

2010 339,608 81,761 124,765 133,082

Source: (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 2010)

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Deployment of Seafarers by Top 10 Vessel Types (2007-2010) 2007 2008 2009 All Vessel Types-Total Passenger Bulk Carrier Container Tanker Oil/Product Tanker Chemical Tanker General Cargo Tugboat Pure Car Carrier Gas Tanker 226,900 47,782 42,357 37,983 25,011 14,462 7,902 10,754 6,610 5,743 3,471 244,144 44,866 46,72 36,614 24,056 15,702 10,891 11,763 7,205 6,398 4,235 329,728 61,705 62,229 44,276 30,459 22,366 17,179 14,695 10,347 7,918 6,187

2010 339,608 69,298 67,247 44,691 28,065 23,319 19,617 14,740 10,396 9,091 7,197

Source: (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 2010) Average Salary of the Filipino Seafarer in US dollars (2007) The salary of seafarers varies according to one’s position. The following table are average salaries for different positions. The figures can be higher or lower depending on the company or employer and type of contract agreed upon. Position Captain Chief Officer 2nd officer 3rd officer 11 Salary 4,500 3,200 2,500 2,350

Chief Engineer 2nd Engineer 3rd Engineer Electrician Bosun Able Seaman Ordinary Seaman Fitter Oiler Wiper Chief Cook Messman
Source: (OFWGuide, 2007)

4,200 3,200 2,500 2,200 1,700 1,500 1,150 1,600 1,500 1,4150 1,600 1,000

Deployed Seafarers by Gender (2006-2007) Note: Only the years 2006 to 2007 are available at the POEA

Sex Male Female Not Stated Total

Seafarers deployed 2007 216,874 6,619 3,407 226,900 2006 222,575 6,436 1,011 230,022 Growth Rate -2.6% 2.8% 237.0% -1.4%

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Source: Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (2008)

Chapter III

The Filipino Seafarer A Special Breed of OFWs

The Filipino Seafarer apart from the land based OFWs have become a vital component of the economy. They are also a major source of remittances that contribute significantly in stabilizing both the balance of payments as well as the foreign exchange and serve as a buffer against the devaluation of the peso that could drastically lead to inflation. Hence, politicians consider the OFWs including the seafarers as the “new heroes” that have kept the economy of the Philippines stable. Evan though the maritime industry of the country itself is weak, it is still the top supplier of personnel to the global maritime industry. It has remained competitive and was able to outmatch other maritime states such as Korea, Japan, Indonesia and India.

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The Philippine’s Maritime Policies and Regulations
The government’s policy aims “to ensure qualified, competent and globally competitive Philippine seafarers” (RA8544, 1998) also to provide “protection to labour” according to the PD442 of 1974. They are also protected under the overseas Filipino workers act (RA8042, 1995). Other laws, presidential orders also express similar policies. The implementation is however, decentralised and it is distributed among government agencies that are involved in labour market regulation (Maragtas, 2004). . There are at least fourteen government agencies involved. They are vested with specific functions as mandated by various laws to regulate the education, training, certification and employment in the global labour market. The POEA under the DOLE is the most important government agency which regulates the global labour market engagements of Filipino seafarers. In the Standard Terms and Conditions Governing the Employment of Filipino Seafarers On-Board Ocean-Going Vessels prescribed by the POEA it was clearly pronounced that among the duties of the employer/agency/master are the following:

1. To faithfully comply with the stipulated terms and conditions of this contract, particularly the prompt payment of wages, remittance of allotment and the expeditious settlement of valid claims of seafarers. 2. To make operational on board the vessel the grievance machinery provided in this contract and ensures its free access at all times by the seafarer.

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3. To provide a seaworthy vessel for the seafarer and take all reasonable precautions to prevent accident and injury to the crew including provision of safety equipment, fire prevention, safe and proper navigation of the vessel and such other precautions necessary to avoid accident, injury or sickness to the seafarer.(Italics supplied) 4. To observe the Code of Ethics for Seafarers and conduct himself in the traditional decorum of a master.

In summary, apart from the 1987 Philippine Constitution, there had been at least six laws enacted by congress, four presidential decrees (during martial law), four presidential executive orders, a presidential letter of instruction and even remnants of the code of commerce dating back to the Spanish era have their affect on the Filipino seafarer. In addition, there are several Supreme Court decisions that either confirm or validate legal principles on the employment and compensation of seafarers. There are also multilateral conventions regarding seafarers in which the Philippines are a signatory (Maragtas, 2004).

Education
What makes Filipino seafarers a special breed of OFWs is the rigidity of the process in becoming a seafarer. For education, the person must undergo a four to five year course college degree. It could either be nautical studies or marine engineer. These programs are for those who aspire in becoming officers. On the other hand, some maritime school offer associate degrees to those who would find employment as ratings, but can come back to continue their studies, take the licensure 15

examinations and qualify as officers. Aside from education, seafarers must undergo maritime training which updates the competencies of their performances as officers or ratings. This training is required in order to get an STCW’95 as per standardized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Eventually after studies the person must undergo shipboard training or cadetship to use their knowledge and skills into practice. It is an on-the job training for the maritime students. Another edge that the Filipino seafarers have is that they have a good grasp on the English language. As a legacy of the American colonization this has been the medium of instruction, including in the maritime industry.

Crewing agencies and Seafarer Recruitment
Seafarers formally enter the labour market through these crewing agencies. Most of the agencies are owned by shipping companies themselves and in effect supplying their own crews for their own ships. The POEA has accredited a list of 417 crewing agencies involved in recruitment, processing and deployment of seafarers. Among the agencies there is a strong competition in which the POEA has created a “watch list” as well. The list includes agencies that were found guilty or with pending cases of fraud and non-payment of salaries and remittances to seafarers. There is also another “watch list” of OFWs that also include seafarers (Maragtas, 2004).

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Union Membership of Seafarers
Seafarers have in their rights to join unions. Majority of them deployed are members of these unions. Their membership is for the duration of their employment contract. Members get the benefits through the collective bargaining agreements made by the union to their employers. Although, most seafarers have a positive outlook on their unions, there are however, some negative comments, ranging from very limited or zero awareness of freedom of association and the rights to collective bargaining, negotiations, grievance procedures and dispute settlements. There are also cases in which the seafarer has not recalled participating in a union election, and complaints of not receiving any reports which explained or accounted for their union contributions (Maragtas, 2004). In terms of wages, the seafarer has a higher salary compared to a non-union member by at least 15 per cent pay differential.

Preference to Filipino Seafarers
Setting aside the [labor cost] element, Filipinos are still preferred over others as officers, midshipmen or crew members for a variety of reasons. Below are but some of the so-called characteristics which makes the Filipinos attractive to international merchant marine shipping companies for example the SDV Maritime Corporation (2012): • • They are hardworking They are resilient

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Have a good faculty in the English language They are competent Easy to work with (“madaling maki-sama” )

At first glance there seems to be such a random list of favorable traits that these companies like about the Filipinos. Therefore a “full blown idealized persona” seems to be developed (Agonias & Austria, 2012). The Filipino is idealized, packaged in fact as people or seafarers who possess all these positive characteristics—making them a cut above the rest of the competition. While Culliname (2005) and the rest believes that the attraction is mainly economic and for practical reasons…we can never discount that there are other factors as well.

Problems Encountered by Seafarers

Family
The first, most painful and constant problem of seafarers is being away from their families. Since most of the time he or she would be out at sea for at least six months or depending on the contract agreed between the employer and agency. This sacrifice as the seafarers put it, as worth it since the salary is enough to support their families. But, the negative side of which, is since the seafarer will be away for a long time there is a tendency that the family will be broken, relationship between the seafarer and their children would somewhat distant. However, because

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of the improvement of technology and communication, seafarers jump at the opportunity for them to contact their families via internet or cell phones.

Health

Another problem that they face is health issues.

Seafarers are mandatorily inspected and

certified that they are in good condition when they board their ships. If their medical results showed medical disabilities, then their work would automatically be in jeopardy because if they are not fit to work then their employment may be postponed but not lost outright. That problem is only before entering the ship, now even when they are at sea there are also health issues they face. Seafarers are more prone to obesity and contracting HIV/AIDS. These problems are recognized and several international organizations such as the IMO and the WHO further pushed for more health benefits to all seafarers (International Shipping Corporation, 2009).

Accidents
Seafarers are always in constant danger of accidents. Most accidents occurring in sea are minor but there are also extreme cases in which many seafarers and non-mariners die because of accidents. There are a lot of factors to consider: from human error to weather conditions. In the global maritime industry according to the IMO there had been a total of 3583 maritime casualties from 2006 to 2011 most of which have Filipino seafarers as part of their crews (International Maritime Organization, 2011) Type of 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2010 Total

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Ship Bulk Carrier Tanker 192 99 50 35 22 7 157 109 79 59 27 10 431 (12%) 398 (11%) Container Ship Fishing Vessel Cargo Ship Passenger 46 Ship Towing Pushing Tug Others 435 283 207 198 279 114 1402 (39%) Source: (International Maritime Organization, 2011) 5 11 13 5 5 2 39 (1%) 38 32 27 9 7 202 168 139 53 46 17 608 (17%) 152 (%) 57 37 49 30 86 17 259 (7%) 88 79 68 56 21 8 294 (8%)

Government Inefficiencies
Government agencies themselves have also created problems to seafarers. It is revealed that seafarers complain about the expensive, time-consuming overlapping procedures as well as red

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tape in the processing of papers, certificates and documents in dealing with government agencies. This is the result of the decentralization of a formal maritime government agency. Unlike in other states such as South Korea in which it has a single Maritime agency that takes care of all processing of their seafarers. (Amante, 2003)

Discrimination and Maltreatment
Once the seafarer is on duty, discrimination is still present to this day. They are also abused, maltreated and became victims of unfair labour practices. (Opiniano, 2000)

Voting Rights
Absentee voting will never work for seafarers. Records have shown that there in only a minimum percentage of participation of seafarers during elections. According to records as of 2004 only 2500 seafarers have registered for absentee voting of whom only 500 were able to vote. It is a given fact that seafarers can register as absentee voters when before they board their ships. The problem arises is that how can these seafarers vote when they are already out at sea? Yes there are several consulates and embassies overseas, but they are most likely located several miles inland and away from port. In addition, given that they have registered in a consulate and embassy, it will also take time for them to be processed. The seafarer will most likely not to complete the registration because he or she would be constantly moving from one port to the next. If he or she had the chance to complete it there is the risk of missing their vessels or getting fired by the shipmaster for not reporting for work.

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One honest senator confided, “Actually, the absentee-voting system is not for seafarers, but only for land-based workers.” This is shows that seafarers themselves are not being represented formally in Congress. If there would be no solutions found to this present problem, they will always be discriminated and remain second-class citizens in their own native land (Alviola, 2004).

Chapter IV

Conclusion
The Philippines continues to be a large supplier of seafarers to the global maritime industry. In addition, these seafarers have a distinct advantage over the seafarers of other nationalities, is that the Filipinos are more preferred by shipping companies. Although they are several laws passed by the National government to protect the rights and welfare of the seafarer, there is still however common problems that up to this day have not been resolved. Also, unlike other maritime countries, there is however no specialized maritime court that would have jurisdiction to handle disputes such as labour disputes, shipping disasters, just compensation and the like. Although the maritime industry of the Philippines is weak, it is however, is strong producing competent and competitive seafarers. According to Maragtas (2004) Philippine industry leader and officials continually express the hope that the country maintain its top position, or even further enlarge its share of the global labour market in the years to come.

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References

Agoncillo, T. A. (1990). History of the Filipino People (8th ed.). Quezon: Garo Tech Book Inc.

Agonias, & Austria. (2012). THE PHILIPPINE MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY: ITS EMPHASIS ON A SUBCULTURE OF EXCELLENCE VIS-À-VIS THE FAVORED STATUS. Manila: De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. Cullinane, K. (2005). Shipping Economics. London, UK: Elsevier Ltd. International Maritime Organization. (2006). Casualty Statistics and Investigation . London: International Maritime Organization.

• •

International Shipping Corporation. (2009). Maritime Health: Information for Employers. London: International Shipping Corporation.

Maragtas, S. A. (2004). Philippine Global Seafarers: A Profile. Cardiff: Seafarers International Research Centre.

M.Zaide, S. (1999). The Philippines: A Unique Nation. Quezon: All-Nations Publishing Co., Inc. 23

OFWGuide. (2007, January 9). Salary Guide for Filipino Seamen. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from OFWGuide: http://www.ofwguide.com/article_item.php?articleid=604

Organization, I. M. (2006). Casualty Statistics and Investigations . London: International Maritime Organization.

Philippine Maritime Institute Colleges . (n.d.). HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. Retrieved July 30, 2012, from Philippine Maritime Institute Colleges : http://www.pmicolleges.com/

Sabay, R. M. (Ed.). (2012). History of the PMMA. San Narciso: Philippine Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association Inc.

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