EU-Philippine Business Network (EPBN) Maritime Committee Chairman Cliff Davies highlighted the significance of the Philippines to the global maritime industry. The industry continues to play a major role in the Philippine growth story: as of first quarter of 2017, remittances from seafarer grew by 3.4% to US$500 million giving a boost for private consumption. The industry has also reined in unemployment for the past years providing employment approximately 229,000 Filipino seafarers at any given time. In 2016, estimated figures from POEA indicates that 439,958 Filipino seafarer were deployed.
Mr. Davies highlighted three priority areas for the industry:
- Education and training of competent seafarers
- Health and wellness of seafarers
- Ensuring the competitiveness of the Philippines as a leading maritime nation
Maersk Filipinas President, Capt. Renel Ramos, puts focus on the need to automate and digitize the current employment process that seafarers have to go through every deployment. Capt. Ramos advocates the use of electronic signature for contracts, as it will tremendously reduce time and cost of processing. The application of e-signature is covered by the e-Commerce Act of 2000 but has struggled in implementation due to concerns on cybersecurity.
Marine Benefits President Adrian Stray gave an upbeat speech on putting heart into leadership and highlighted culture as a factor in determining management approach. He noted that in the Philippines leadership must come from one’s heart due to its culture that is family-oriented, values cooperation, and avoids confrontation. He added that if an organization is “lead by an angry bird, it will create 4 to 5 more angry birds” among its ranks, thereby increasing health risk and reducing trust in leadership.
OSM Global Training General Manager Adrien Luntao provided an in depth presentation on the Learning and Development journey of OSM that seeks not just to engage but also allow their seafarers to imbibe the company culture. Programs such as Learning Sessions for Crewing Team and Leader’s Summit provide the opportunity for their seafarers to improve their skills and competence. OSM continues to collaborate with its seafarers in terms of career planning and competence management.
POEA Seabased Center Director Yolanda Paragua gave an update on the recent developments in the regulation and processes of the POEA. Dir. Paragua acknowledged that there are still short comings on the side of the agency; however she assured that efforts are being made to streamline the current bureaucracy. She was excited to announce that the POEA e-payments system will be up and running by July. The agency will also work towards enhancing its Foreign Shipping Principals Accreditation system by the end of this year. Dir. Paragua also noted the POEA will be reviewing the standard employment contract for seafarers incorporating the requirements of the Maritime Labor Convention, as well as develop a standard employment contract for fishers, off-shore personnel, and cruise ships.