On 12th January 2020, I published a candid article on why it is so easy for manning agents to skim money from the dollar remittances of Filipino seafarers. “The system facilitates the stealing,” I said flatly. I elaborated on the statement in a 21st September 2020 post, but the problem continues to this day.

Because of this and the financial losses suffered by seafarers and their familiess, I feel compelled to take up the issue once again. This time I will simply compare the remittance rules of the Philippine Overseas Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the pertinent provisions in ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (as amended in 2018).

What the POEA standard employment contract for seafarers stipulates

What the Maritime Labour Convention mandates

The foregoing comparison gives rise to serious questions:

 

  • Why force Filipino seafarers to remit at least 80% of their basic monthly salaries? Why not give them the freedom under the Maritime Labour Convention to decide how much money they will send home and by what means? For instance, their families back home could be provided with an inernational debit card by the shipowners.

  • Why is the money not paid directly to the families of seafarers but have to pass through the hands of manning agents?

  • Why are the funds disbursed to the families in Philippine currency and not in US dollars?

  • Why are there no sanctions against manning agents who do not convert seafarers’ dollars to pesos according to the prevailing foreign exchange rate?

  • Why the deafening silence from the maritime press, the local unions and the army of maritime do-gooders?

So many questions. And the answers, to borrow the title of the Bob Dylan song, are blowin’ in the wind.

 

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