PH sailors’ remittances seen hitting $4B this year

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) expects the cash remittances from Filipino sailors on foreign ocean-going vessels to surpass $4 billion this year, amid resilient global demand for their services.

“The Philippines has secured its position as the world’s preferred supplier of able ship staff,” said TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera, whose labor center includes the Philippine Seafarers’ Union (PSU).

The number of Filipino sailors registering for the first time with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has been increasing by around 3,500 every month, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

Herrera said the Philippines should concentrate on deploying abroad sailors and other highly skilled surplus professionals such as nurses.

“The drawback of unskilled or semi-skilled laborers such as domestic helpers is that, because talents are easy to replace, they are exceptionally exposed to potential mistreatment by employers,” he pointed out.

From January to July this year, remittances from Filipino sailors already hit $2.433 billion, up 14.13 percent or $301 million versus the $2.132 billion they sent home through banks over the same period in 2010.

Herrera said the cash wired home by sailors has been growing three times faster than remittances from land-based migrant Filipino workers.

The POEA processed for deployment a total of 280,348 sea-based workers in the first seven months of this year, up 5.5 percent from 265,656 over the same period in 2010.

Sailors accounted for nearly one-fourth of the 1,470,826 workers the Philippines deployed abroad in the whole of 2010.

In the 12 months of 2010, a total of 347,150 Filipino sailors were deployed to 2,496 foreign ships. This was 16,726, or five percent, greater than the 330,424 sailors set out to 2,340 boats in 2009.

Filipino sailors mostly serve as licensed senior members of the deck department of merchant as well as passenger ships. Others serve as rated technicians in the engine department, bosuns and messmen.

They are employed by cruise liners; bulk carriers; container vessels; oil, gas, chemical and product tankers; general cargo ships; tugboats; and pure car containers.

They sent home a total of $3.806 billion in the 12 months of 2010, up $406 million or 12 percent from the $3.4 billion they remitted via the banking system in 2009.

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