PH seafarers’ toughest competitor: China

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Attendees at the National Seafarers' Day held Sept. 25 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City (Photo: Kris Bayos)

MANILA, Nov. 2, 2016—A representative of the Vatican-based Apostleship of the Sea-International has called on Filipino seafarers to improve their competitiveness to become maritime officers as Chinese sailors start to dominate the world market.

Fr. Bruno Ciceri, C.S. said Filipino seafarers and the Philippine government should work double time to keep up with the global demand for maritime officers, especially as Chinese seafarers have already overtaken Filipinos in numbers.

“Filipino seamen must improve their competitiveness to beat back the challenge of China as the world’s top producer of seamen. The Chinese are now taking over and there are other nationalities that are coming forward, especially for the officers, and Filipinos should work double time,” he said in a speech during the National Seafarers’ Day held Sept. 25 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Competitiveness, positive attitude

According to the Scalabrinian priest, Filipino seafarers are the top choices of international maritime companies due to their good grasp of the English language, competitiveness, and positive attitude towards work.

However, Filipino sailors are mostly classified as ratings or non-officers. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency revealed that out of 10 deployment categories for Filipino seafarers, seven were classified as ratings and only three were officers. This becomes a cause of concern due to the rising demand for ship officers across the globe.

Citing the latest reports from the Baltic and International Maritime Council and the International Chamber of Shipping, Ciceri said Chinese seafarers are meeting the demand and taking jobs away from Filipinos.

Wanted: More officers

“There are many Filipino ratings but for Filipino officers, we have less. We need more Filipino officers, and I would advise Filipinos to work hard to improve their capacity to become officers, because that is what is lacking in the world maritime industry.”

Before taking over the helm of the Apostleship of the Sea under the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Ciceri used to work with migrant workers and advocates in the Philippines between 1985 and 1996. He also served as director of the Stella Maris International Service Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan between 1996 and 2008, and co-authored the book “Fishers and Plunderers: Theft, Slavery and Violence at Sea.”

The Scalabrinian-led Apostleship of the Sea-International is present in 300 sea ports in 30 countries across the globe. It runs over 100 Stella Maris Centers worldwide. In Manila, the Apostleship of the Sea operates at the Pius XII Catholic Center and runs two Stella Maris dormitories for seafarers in Manila. (Kris Bayos / CBCP News)

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