Philippine manning industry and seafarer’s remittances.
by: Yodz de Veas Insigne
The Philippines is basically composed of thousand island economies. It also straddles a strategic position in Asia’s great oceans serving as a gateway to mainland Asia and other countries in the Pacific Rim. Accordingly, Quiason et al. (2000) takes the view that the geographical nature of the country and its vital position in Asia’s major sea lanes make it imperative for the Philippines to have a well developed maritime industry not only to link its various islands for purposes of economic, socio-cultural, political and physical integration, but effectively linking the country to the world.
To improve the financial situation of the family is the major motive of every seafarer for working overseas. Accordingly, Lamvik (2002) takes the view that at the core of the Filipino maritime labor migration lies an admirable ability and willingness to endure hardship or make sacrifice in the name of the family. This is the most fundamental and meaningful inducement factor for choosing a maritime overseas career in the Philippines.
Quiason et al. (2005) concluded that the Philippines is the top supplier of skilled shipping manpower for foreign ships. The general shipping business is currently on an upswing as the demand for general seaborne transport has continued to grow in the recent years. Consequently, Filipino seafarers becomes very much in demand worldwide. In a speech delivered by President Arroyo during the Philippine-Japan Manning Cooperative Forum last February 2008, she mentioned that most Filipinos are natural-born sailors and this inborn inclination and the great Filipino worker’s drive to excel explains the country’s stature as the world’s manning capital.
The Department of Labor & Employment (2005) reported that seafarer’s inward remittances also rose from US$1.093 billion in 2001 to US$1.226 billion in 2002 and to US$1.294 billion in 2003. Remittances are crucial source of income for the families of seafarers. According to the standard terms and conditions governing the employment of Filipino seafarers on board ocean going-vessels, the seafarer is required to make an allotment which shall be payable once a month to his designated allottee in the Philippines through any authorized Philippine bank. The agency shall provide the seafarer with the facilities to do so at no expense of the seafarer. Abenoja (2004), estimated that more than 80% of the remittances came from land-based Filipino workers. The remaining 20% is accounted by the sea-based Filipino workers. It maybe noted that remittances from sea-based workers have been on a steady uptrend compared to the slightly volatile trend for remittances from land-based workers. This is due in part to existing regulation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) requiring seafarers to remit a portion of their monthly basic salary including backwages.
During the Philippine-Japan Manning Forum, President Arroyo, in her speech during the opening ceremony, stressed that the seafarers, being the largest sector among the OFWs, constitute a major factor in the rise of the Philippine economy and contribute to the 14.4 billion-dollar remittances in 2007. Filipino seafarers are truly making waves in serving not only the nation but the world. President Arroyo also added that the rising remittances and the continued effectiveness of the economic reforms that are being implemented in a few years have made 2007 a banner year in Philippine economic history.