Thursday, September 10, 2020

DOTr Maritime sector continues to activate crew change hubs in the country; operationalized hub in Subic Freeport Zone

Wazzup Pilipinas!

In its bid to help address the global need for fresh crew of ships amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), through its Maritime Sector, continues with the activation of crew change hubs in the country, this time, in Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Five (5) seafarers disembarked today, 10 September 2020, after months of being onboard the MV Dapeng Star from Dapeng, China. The seafarers underwent strict health and safety protocols, in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), to ensure that they are free from any COVID-19 infection.

Upon arrival at the port, the seafarers proceeded to the One-Stop Shop (OSS) located at the Subic Bay International Airport, where they were required to undergo triage or sorting procedures and swab testing. Upon completion, the seafarers boarded a P2P vehicle bound to their designated quarantine facility in Manila for mandatory quarantine.

The newly-operationalized crew change hub in Subic follows the first crew change operations conducted outside Metro Manila, in Port Capinpin in Bataan on 05 September 2020.

Witnessing the crew change operations today were DOTr OIC-Assistant Secretary for Maritime Narciso Vingson Jr., Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Charlie Rances, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair and Administrator Wilma Eisma, and Subic Quarantine Station Chief Joseph Macaraeg.

According to Asec. Vingson, the DOTr Maritime Sector is commited to work for the activation of crew change hubs in the country to give maritime vessels the avenue to refresh their manpower and provide relief to seafarers, especially those that have served or completed their contracts.

"Ngayong panahon ng pandemya, karamihan sa mga bansa ay nagsasarado ng border nila. Kaya naman itong crew change hubs ay napakahalaga para mapangalagaan ang health and safety ng ating mga seafarers. Sa ngayon, more than 300,000 o 30% ng mga seafarers sa buong mundo ay Filipino,” Asec. Vingson said.

“Ito din po ay alinsunod sa kautusan ni Secretary Arthur Tugade bilang commitment natin sa nakaraang International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council Meeting na gawin ang Pilipinas bilang Crew Change Capital of the World," Asec. Vingson emphasized.

Meanwhile, Office for Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator and OSS Head Undersecretary Raul de Rosario said that the continuous operationalization of crew change hubs is a welcome development that will further attract shipping lines to the country.

“Nakakatuwa na napa-patronize na ang ating mga itinatag na One-Stop Shop sa pangunguna ng DOTr. Mas lalong mapapabilis ang crew change at maraming mga shipping lines ang mae-enganyo dito sa Pilipinas mag crew change dahil may iba’t-iba silang pagpipiliian na ports,” Usec. Del Rosario said.

In her message, SBMA Chair Eisma also underscored the significance of opening crew change hubs in the country, including that in Subic Freeport Zone, as this will allow Filipino seafarers to go back home.

"It is very important to open this for Filipino seafarers all over the world. Nobody should be left behind. This is one of the many reasons kung bakit kailangan silang tanggapin pabalik," Chair Eisma said.

Crew change is essential to ensure seafarers’ safety, health, welfare and employment as they can only serve on board a vessel without leave up to a maximum of 11 months based on International Labour Organization (ILO) 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

To recall, the Subic Bay Free Port Zone was opened and activated as a crew change hub on 22 August 2020.

Other crew change hubs activated were the Port of Manila and Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan.

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