This is my last blog post about the decades-old scam involving the theft of dollars sent home by Filipino seafarers. No, the problem has not gone away. On the contrary, dishonest manning agents continue to skim money from the remittances of the men and woman who toil at sea.
READ MORE: Crewing agents as money changers
I have decided to end my rantings on the subject for a practical reason: nobody cares. Not the unions. Not the maritime charities. And certainly not the two-bit maritime journalists in Manila who spend more time kissing ass than writing about the abuses perpetrated against seafarers. All are as silent on the subject as the dead lying peacefully in cemeteries.
The seafarers themselves seem not to care. They will post selfies and talk about jobs on social media, but they dare not raise their voice on the dollar theft. No seafarer wants to be seen as a maverick. Besides, seafarers probably think that it’s no big deal. What does it matter if a manning agent shaves off a peso or two from the prevailing dollar-to-peso conversion rate and keeps the difference? What seafarers don’t realise is that unscrupulous agents, collectively, are skimming off millions of dollars annually from their remittances.
All this points to a grievously damaged culture where cheating and taking advantage of seafarers are considered normal. The British writer Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) said it well in his 1889 essay, ‘Defence of Criminals – Criticism of Immorality’:
“When the ideal of Society is material gain or possession, as it is largely to-day, the object of its special condemnation is the thief — not the rich thief, for he is already in possession and therefore respectable, but the poor thief.”
No doubt, there are many respectable folks in maritime Manila.
NOTE: I have not completely given up on the remittance scam issue. I will be writing about it in a book I am working on and in another that is in the pipeline.
~ Barista Uno