February 21st, 2011

Philippine’s announce New Ways of documenting Overseas Workers and local Seafarers

In line with the Philippine’s drive to strengthen its major industries, two government sectors have announced its plans to develop their database.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) are planning to introduce new ways of documentation for overseas workers and the maritime industry.

Recently, The Philippine Coast Guard announced its plan to develop a database of commercial ships' officers in collaboration with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).

The database would include the names and qualifications of all commercial ships’ officers such as captains, chief mates, chief engineers, licensed merchant mariners, and those who have been involved in maritime incidents.

MARINA statistics showed that 85 percent of sea mishaps were attributed to human error. In able to reduce such errors, the Philippine’s Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo has directed the PCG Maritime Safety Office to coordinate with MARINA and PRC.

Admiral Tamayo said the database will serve as PCG’s basis in checking the capability and competence of the ships’ officers in sailing passenger and cargo vessels safely to their destinations. The process would also help in preventing the employment of mariners who resort to presenting fake credentials to shipping companies.

With PCG's powers to board and inspect vessels and its crew, the database is an important tool to evaluate the competence of the ship’s crew and preventing unlicensed mariners to engage in maritime transport operations, said Tamayo.

The move would also strengthen the position of the PCG in its campaign against unregistered vessels which, based on the findings of the Coast Guard Intelligence, are at times also manned by unqualified or unlicensed boat captains and seafarers.

Admiral Tamayo urged the local shipping executives to closely examine and validate qualifications of commercial ships' officers including prospective applicants. He also underscored the relevance of this initiative since it will significantly help protect the lives of the riding public who are dependent on marine transportation system.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), on the other hand, is also planning to integrate all of its databases in its Web site with real-time information to combat illegal recruitment in the country.

POEA Administrator Carlos Cao said that he has already ordered POEA’s Information Technology to initiate a study on how to merge the departments’ entire database, to provide recruiters and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) better information to avoid anomalous transactions.

The database will be integrated in POEA’s existing e-submission program, its online-based service for OFWs and recruitment agencies. He said the project will be able to assist an estimated 350,000 users, who utilize the online service to transact with their department.

The project was initially proposed during the previous administration, but was delayed due to POEA’s failed negotiations with other government agencies with the integration.

Some of the agencies, which participated in the project, were the Department of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Immigration, and the National Statistics Department.