Ople orders recruitment agencies to stop requiring OFWs to wear PPEs
Acting on a directive from Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Friday issued an advisory against requirements of certain agencies for migrant workers to wear full Personal Protective Equipment, or PPEs, while preparing to leave the country.
She said the wearing of PPEs is not sanctioned by the department and the POEA.
"I agree with the sentiments of Senator Pia Cayetano and other legislators that the PPE requirement for departing OFWs is outdated, misguided, and oppressive. I regret not having issued this order much earlier to spare our OFWs the discomfort of going to the airport in full PPE attire," Ople, who is part of the presidential delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, said.
The Department of Migrant Workers thanked Senator Pia Cayetano for keenly observing and pointing out in her remarks at the Senate floor the wearing of PPEs by a group of OFWs waiting for their flights at one of the airport terminals.
The POEA issued Advisory #62 Series 2022 reminding recruitment agencies not to make the wearing of PPEs a requirement for OFWs as they travel to their destination countries.
According to the advisory, "the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has not issued nor implemented rules and guidelines mandating the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), whether in Philippine airports or in the countries of destination."
The advisory, issued by DMW Undersecretary for Licensing and Adjudication Bernard P. Olalia, concurrently POEA Officer-in-Charge, explains that "with the easing of regulations on both domestic and international travel, and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)’s promulgation of policies for the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, such as the voluntary wearing of face masks outdoors and the downgrading of most areas to the lowest alert levels, the POEA reiterates that requirements on the deployment and travel of OFWs must also be relaxed."
A manning agency disclosed to Ople that one of their Japanese principals still requires the wearing of PPEs and masks for Filipino crew bound for Japan since the COVID-19 virus is still prevalent in Japan. The said agency, however, promised to comply with the POEA advisory. A Chinese shipping vessel also requires its local manning agency to supply PPEs to the embarking crew to prevent infection during travel, with the cost of the PPEs shouldered by the employer.
"The DMW firmly believes that having vaccines plus booster shots and wearing face masks provides sufficient protection to our overseas workers. Until otherwise recommended by our health officials, the POEA advisory against the mandatory wearing of PPEs for our OFWs by their respective recruitment and manning agencies shall remain in force," Ople said.
In Taiwan, the easing of health protocols has led to a shorter quarantine period and a halt to a previous requirement for OFWs arriving in Taiwan to wear PPEs.
Ople noted that other countries, such as the United States, have relaxed their health protocols for all travellers, including foreign workers, with the airlines requiring only the presentation of vaccination certificates.
"Asking our OFWs to wear PPEs at this time is like asking surfers to wear ballgowns—it's cumbersome, awkward, and extremely peculiar. In short, OA na masyado," Ople said.
PHILMEPA spearheads cleanup drive
The Philippine Marine Environment Protection Association (PHILMEPA) has spearheaded a clean-up drive in a portion of Laguna de Bay in celebration of this year's World Clean Up Day on September 17.
There were more than 100 volunteers who participated, including cadets and employees, officers and members of Kababaihan Unlad Binan and the San Francisco Ladies Group.
PHILMEPA collaborated with the office of Binan Laguna Mayor Walfredo "Arman" Dimaguila Jr. and San Francisco Barangay Captain Geminiano Catalon.
Crossworld Marine Services, Unlad Ship Manning and Management Corporation, Health Plus Diagnostic Clinic, and Marino World supported the event.
IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 issues updated analysis of MARPOL Annex VI
The IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 Project has released an updated version of its popular clause-by-clause analysis of MARPOL Annex VI, which addresses air pollution from ships, in the six official IMO languages. The document provides a breakdown explanation of each regulation and it is intended to be a useful resource for countries seeking to draft legislation to incorporate MARPOL Annex VI into national law.
Minglee Hoe, IMO GreenVoyage2050 Project Technical Analyst said: “At IMO, we know how vital it is that all countries can access information about environmental regulations that will aid them in understanding it as well as drafting legislation for their national laws. Our original clause-by-clause analysis was designed to facilitate greater transparency and understanding of MARPOL Annex VI and we are very pleased to release this updated version of this important resource.”
The revised clause-by-clause analysis has been updated to reflect major amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, which were adopted by the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at its 76th session in June 2021. Most notably, these include regulations relating to the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), and reflects the renumbering of provisions in the 2021 Revised MARPOL Annex VI, set out in Resolution MEPC.328(76) which is applicable from 1 November 2022.
“As with our other tools and documents, this analysis has been released in multiple languages to help achieve our goal of effective implementation of MARPOL Annex VI, the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, and to support developing countries to achieve their GHG emission reduction goals. This analysis can assist developing countries in their efforts to strengthen their legal framework by developing robust legislation for implementation and enforcement of the international instrument,” Ms. Hoe said.
Batalla takes oath as new STCW chief
Mr. Samuel Batalla took his oath as the new OIC-Executive Director of the STCW Office of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) today, September 12.
Batalla was the Officer-In-Charge-Chief for the Certification Division during the term of former MARINA OIC Administrator Narciso Vingson, Jr. who issued the STCW Advisory No. 2019-05, then "Clarifications and Supplemental Guidelines on the Implementation of STCW Circular No. 2018-02, Entitled “Standards for Mandatory Training Courses under the STCW Convention, 1978, As Amended.”
With a master's degree from the World Maritime University (WMU) Master of Science (MSc) in Maritime Affairs specializing in Maritime Administration, Batalla was the OIC-Director of the MARINA Regional Office (MRO) 12 before he was appointed to head the STCW office.
Batalla took his oath before MARINA Administrator Hernani Fabia, together with Atty. Sharon Aledo, OIC of the Legal Service Division and Atty. Eusebia Boco, OIC of the MARINA Regional Office VIII.
Fabia expressed confidence that "as they work conjointly, they will be sailing the MARINA towards a progressive agency."
"We might encounter waves that will challenge us along our way but I'm certain that we can deliver and perform any assignment that might be given alongside our Agency's mandates. We're here to help one another and work as a team," Fabia said.
MAAP and Kongsberg Digital sign significant simulation contract
Kongsberg Digital has signed a contract to deliver a range of maritime simulators to the new and extensive Innovation Lab of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific or MAAP in the Philippines.
The academy has been a first adopter of new simulation-based training tools for years.
Kongsberg Digital’s simulator systems are central to the future-oriented Lab and will augment an already extensive range of K-Sim products, strengthening MAAP’s position as a regional institution of excellence for maritime education and innovation.
The agreement which consists of a Long-Term System Support Program (LTSSP), includes the delivery of Kongsberg Digital’s cutting-edge maritime simulators for an Innovation Lab which places its emphasis on Digital Twin, Shore Control, Remote Control Center and MASS (maritime autonomous surface ship) technologies.
The investment will enable MAAP to enhance training and assessment, and to conduct advanced research in, for example, e-Navigation, and validate operational concepts, including smart and autonomous ships.
As part of the Digital Twin initiative, Kongsberg Digital’s Vessel Insight will be installed on the academy’s training vessel.
This will enable MAAP’s students to take a leading role with first-hand experience on vessel-to-cloud data infrastructure capturing and give them the ability to analyze vessel data over time.
Also covered by the system extension is the delivery of a brand-new celestial navigation simulator system, which allows instructors to provide trainee officers with hands-on experience in a safe, controlled, and realistic environment meeting the standards laid out in the STCW requirements. In addition, Kongsberg Digital will deliver new consoles for MAAP´s existing K-Sim Navigation bridge simulators, as well as a mid-life upgrade of its motion platform, including four class-B K-Sim Engine room simulators. This will extend and complete MAAP´s wide range of existing K-Sim simulators covering various training purposes, like; ship handling/navigation, engine room management, cargo handling and advanced firefighting simulator system.
Consolidating its position as a leading adopter of the new digital technology, MAAP started using Kongsberg Digital’s K-Sim Connect platform in 2019 for cloud-based simulation training to complement classroom education. Since then, the cloud-based K-Sim Engine training applications have allowed the academy's students to practice and prepare for their exams anytime, anywhere and at their own pace.
Kongsberg Digital will soon launch its latest extension to the company’s cloud- based simulation portfolio, the K-Sim Navigation, and the contract with MAAP includes the delivery of this brand-new training application. MAAP will thus be one of the first training centers world-wide to start using it for blended learning.
President at MAAP Admiral Eduardo Ma. Santos, says: “MAAP is a leading institution of excellence for maritime education and training in the Asia-Pacific region, but the worlds of maritime training and simulation never stand still. Our longstanding relationship with Kongsberg Digital has consistently equipped us to retain our position as a pioneer in the use of new simulation-based training tools.”
“With this contract, MAAP is demonstrating regional leadership and a willingness to invest in the future,” says Andreas Jagtøyen, Executive Vice President, Kongsberg Digital. “As a clear pioneer in the use of new simulation-based training tools and cloud-based solutions, MAAP is investing and demonstrating serious intent when it comes to the future education and training of seafarers. Our relationship with MAAP goes back decades, and we are immensely proud to be trusted by this respected institution. We are looking forward to delivering our K-Sim and Vessel Insight products and contributing to a very exiting innovation initiative.”
A New Way to Care for Seafarers
Filipino seafarers represent about 25% of the world’s maritime workforce, transporting essential goods around the world. We ought to improve the healthcare for seafarers, seeing the growing threat of health issues, including psychological well-being.
Prior voyage, seafarers must go through medical check. This is a critical point of the seafarer’s journey, as livelihood is put on hold if medical issues come up. Then and now, it’s common for seafarers to dread this medical check for fear that they would spend too much time, money, and effort to get their medical clearance, dependent on which clinic they are assigned to, and be subject to tests and evaluation, hoping that they get the call they are finally fit to work. A seafarer’s journey doesn’t have to be like this moving forward.
With a dream for the maritime industry’s way of caring for our seafarers, Nordic Medical Clinic (NMC) was established last 2018 as a Pre-Employment Medical Examination clinic solely for seafarers.
NMC’s PEME program seeks to raise the standards of seafarer’s healthcare in the Philippines through its holistic approach. By maintaining the good health of the seafarer, it empowers a seafarer to long-term skilled service beneficial to their career, their family and the company.
“More than just classifying into fit or unfit, we proactively care for seafarers, prior joining and while onboard. We didn’t stop at testing our seafarers, we started teaching them.”, Dr Didoy Lubaton (Medical Director for Holistic Care) said. Embedded in the PEME program is the holistic health education specific for the lifestyle of the seafarers.
One interesting area of NMC is the conversation room. Within 24 hours after PEME, medical results of the seafarer are sent online, and dedicated Doctors call seafarers individually to discuss the results and continue teaching. On-site, this is done in the conversation room, a safe place for one-on-one discussion with the seafarers. The conversation includes lifestyle modifications and motivations, to be preventive rather than just to be curative, how to be at best of health in mind and body.
True to the culture of care, NMC created a zero cash out policy, meaning NO items/services will be paid by seafarers.
Another feature of NMC is its Telemedicine services. On shore and at sea, the seafarer now has access to healthcare. With the PEME health records, Telemedicine response is better knowing the latest medical status of the seafarer. With holistic health education as its mission, Companies could also request health talks for free for their employees and seafarers.
NMC clients and seafarers attest to the success of this healthcare program. One of its clients, as an example, was able to significantly decrease medical repatriation rates from the industry rate of 1.5% to now only 0.7%. This translates to healthier seafarers and families, smoother operations, and customer’s success. Crew Satisfaction Score for the clinic is at 99% with remarks of appreciation and recommendation to reach more seafarers.
The clinic has recently expanded operations to NMC Cebu. With this new branch, the holistic healthcare services are now closer to the homes of the seafarers in the Visayas and Mindanao regions: more accessible healthcare, less travel and lodging cost, easier and faster clearance to work.
NMC hopes that holistic care in maritime would make a difference in the journey of the seafarer, now and the future. Everybody wins when seafarers are cared for and take care of themselves too.
Nordic Medical Clinic is a Maritime Pre-Employment Medical Clinic in the Philippines with a holistic approach to healthcare, mindful of the needs of the seafarer and company.
Minoa Marine & Michaelmar Phils strengthen ties
While things are hissing up towards global economic recovery, Minoa Marine Ltd. (MML) and Michaelmar Phils. Inc. (MPI) are bullish to reinforce their synergy. Together, they spearheaded two valuable projects for the seafarers and their families.
Speaking to Marino World, MML Crewing Manager Mr. Alexandros Papalambrou, underscores “We are committed to provide services of the highest standards, quality and efficiency. Towards this direction we are seeking long-term relationship with valued partners. One of the most valuable partners is Michaelmar Phils. Inc.”
MML held its first training program at the recently established Anthimos Minoa Marine Training Center located at Michaelmar building in Palanan, Makati City.
The two-day seminar was participated in by 22 deck and engine management level officers on June 9-10 aimed to study cases, gain feedback from the officers to avoid accidents on board and to create a better life at sea.
MML Operations Manager Capt. Yiannis Katsouris shares his deepest thoughts on investing on training for their crews who play a vital role in the operations of the vessels 24/7 responsible for her seaworthiness and for the proper handling of the cargo, a key aspect of the whole voyage.
“Therefore, we consider them as valuable assets. Our company aims to have a long-lasting cooperation with Filipino seafarers, making them an indispensable part of our team, for years to come.”
MPI supplies the crewing requirements of the eight panamax bulk carriers managed by MML.
Capt. Katsouris with 25 years of experience and who worked with Filipino seafarers onboard says “Filipino seafarers are reliable, loyal and disciplined. They work hard and with dedication, committed to solve any problem that might arise during a sea voyage.”
Mr. Papalambrou proudly reports that there was not even one case of COVID-19 reported from their crew. He also confirms Minoa’s support to the seafarers and their families during the crisis.
“Not even one case of COVID. No complaint from the seafarers. Minoa treats the seafarers not only with protection but also takes care of their finances so that in these difficult periods they can overcome.”
MML Owner’s Representative Capt. Rudylyn Gallego substantiates Papalambrou’s statement, “the company and Michaelmar also provided the crew with extensive medical test, free hotel isolation prior to joining, and personal protective equipment.
In consideration of, he said, the seafarers including himself sacrificed and showed resiliency during the difficult times.
“Life at sea requires mental flexibility which most of the seafarers already adapted. We provided open communication to the seafarers in order to ward off their feelings of anxiety, loneliness and depression. I myself stayed 12 months onboard, it was very difficult times, very difficult. But I always tell my crew that we must wait for the time that we are able to disembark as there is no airport to go home.”
On June 4, Julia Minoa Women Society held its first project of Constant Support Initiative (CSI) at the Bahay Aruga in Ermita, Manila.
Minoa and Michaelmar gave a complete party package to the kids – food and drinks, gifts, bubble and balloon shows. The children danced and were entertained by the performances of the clowns.
Two of the kids also celebrated their birthdays with the traditional blowing of the cake candles.
Event headers are Ms. Georgia Stylianopoulou and Ms. Marlene Gaspar MML and MPI Representatives; and Ms. Marimel Gallego, Team Leader of the Women Society.
Ms. Stylianopoulou keynotes “I know it’s hard times. I know you’re having difficult times but please don’t let the bad moments define you. Be happy whenever you can. Smile whenever you can. If we lose hope, we have nothing. So please keep smiling and I think everything will go as well as they can go.”
Bahay Aruga as a charitable institution is a free halfway house for children with cancer. Affiliated with the Philippine General Hospital, it gives temporary shelter to pediatric cancer patients for free while they are having their medications at PGH.
Ms. Gaspar says Bahay Aruga needs more support and funding as it runs solely on donations by kind-hearted individuals.
“The worldwide pandemic caused economic and social disruption. Less donations came in and now it is gradually starting to pick up. By having this outreach event, we hope that we were able to bring some joy and happiness to the kids and forget the pain they are going through even for a moment,” she expounds.
Mrs. Merry Rose Simeon, wife of a seafarer, says in her first time joining the event, she met new friends and it was fulfilling.
“The knowledge of helping others is hugely empowering and in turn it makes you feel happier and more fulfilled. The power to improve the lives of others and to many people is a privilege and one that comes with its own sense of obligations.”
Team Leader Marimel, wife of MML Manila representative Capt. Rudylyn Gallego expressed determination to have a strong presence.
“Julia Minoa Women Society is determined to have a strong presence to establish our objectives in the Philippine community - to provide socially beneficial work where we as the wives of the seafarers will act and organize the activities and plans of Minoa.”
She also gave emphasis that parents should be the heroes of their children by taking care of them and supporting them in every challenge they encounter.
Indeed, the two events reflect Minoa Marine Ltd. and Michaelmar Phils. Inc. strong partnership in taking care of the seafarers and their families’ well-being.
DMMA College of Southern Philippines
welcomes NSA new Deputy Director
Last April 21, 2022, the DMMA College of Southern Philippines organized a fitting arrival honors for the new Deputy Director of the Norwegian Training Center- Manila, Capt. Knut Bentzrod.
The ceremony was also graced by the Managing Director of the Norwegian Training Center- Manila, Capt. Jo Even Tomren.
The Norwegian Training Center- Manila manages the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association Philippines Cadet Program, which provides fully sponsored scholarship programs in Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering for selected young and qualified Filipinos.
In search of these exceptional cadets, NTC-M has partnered with DMMA College of Southern Philippines since 2006.
Since its inception a total of 772 scholars have benefitted from the said partnership.
The program served as an instrument to enhance the maritime educational system in the Philippines through scholarship grants and the use of top of the line facilities which equip select young and qualified learners to only be of standard and top caliber.
True enough, hundreds of young Filipinos especially from Mindanao have benefitted from the partnership and are currently moving forth internationally in their careers as professional marine officers.
Alongside this, DMMA continues to pursue the advocacy of the program which is to greatly contribute to the Filipino youth and produce efficient, disciplined, and competent graduates to soon take on esteemed careers.
This Cadetship Program has proved that Filipino seafarers can truly excel competently in the maritime profession with the due provision of opportunities, topnotch education and training, as well as appropriate resources.
With the installation of the new Deputy Director Capt. Knut Bentzrod, and his vast sailing experience for 35 years, DMMA College of Southern Philippines is confident that the program will progressively flourish in the coming years.
As mentioned by Capt. Tomren, “[DMMA] is one of the best schools in the Philippines that can offer maritime education and, of course, the commitment from the management is very important for us”.
DMMA College of Southern Philippines strives to operate with heart and commitment to bring forth the best learning experience for their students. Given the school’s dedicated officials and management who unceasingly direct DMMA College towards innovation and excellence in all aspects, the college maintains a keen, optimistic outlook vis-à-vis the future of every cadet.
DMMA College is dedicated in the pursuit of continuously producing elite maritime students. Through the partnership of NTC-M and DMMA College, the rapid development of maritime education across the country would no longer be far from reality and aspiring maritime professionals would most certainly be promised a clear path paved for their very success.