DMW: Philippines included in IMO Whitelist

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DMW: Philippines included in IMO Whitelist
A screengrab from the Facebook post of the Department of Migrant Workers showing Hans Leo Cacdag.
Facebook / Department of Migrant Workers

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) sees the continued hiring of Filipino seafarers with the inclusion of the Philippines in the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s Whitelist.

The country’s inclusion in the IMO Whitelist “is a global validation of the Filipino seafarers’ exceptional abilities,” DMW Secretary Hans Cacdac said.

The IMO Whitelist signifies Filipino seafarers’ adherence to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping convention, an international agreement promoting safety at sea and environmental protection through standardized training for merchant marines worldwide, Cacdac noted.

“This milestone paves the way for secure employment and continued employability for Filipino seafarers,” he added.

Filipino seafarers comprise about 30 percent of the global maritime workforce.

In 2023, the Philippines deployed 570,959 seafarers, a 16 percent increase, particularly in passenger vessels, from the previous year.

Also last year, Filipino seafarers’ remittances reached an all-time high of $6.85 billion.

Ambulance chasing

Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) asked President Marcos to again include Section 59 on ambulance chasing in the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers Law.

“Ambulance chasing” refers to lawyers who reportedly persuade seafarers or workers injured on the job to seek monetary damages from their employers.

Before Marcos signs the measure, Section 59 or the exclusion of judgment and monetary awards must be included again, the ICS and IMEC said in a three-page open letter.

They said the “stakes are simply too high” on ambulance chasing.

“Our global network of shipowners and operators was very disappointed by the removal of Section 59 from the Magna Carta in May this year... The removal of that well-balanced legislative provision puts at serious risk the position of the Philippines as the world’s leading labor supply country,” they said.

The ICS and IMEC also claimed that as of September 2023, the quantifiable damage from ambulance chasing (unrecovered amount due back to shipowners by way of garnishment and restitution of legal cases of Filipino seafarers) had already reached $52.6 million, according to the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs.

“Regrettably, those seafarers that genuinely deserve lawful disability benefits are also not receiving them, as the greater portion is retained by the ambulance chasers,” they said.

Section 59 was deleted from Senate Bill 2221 and House Bill 7325 during the May 20 bilateral conference committee hearing

In 2022 and 2023, Marcos reportedly heeded calls for a long-term resolution on ambulance chasing and formed in January 2023 an International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs, tasked with giving expert advice on major maritime issues affecting Filipino seafarers. — Evelyn Macairan

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