Press Release
April 22, 2016


Independent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero is proposing to lengthen the validity period for seafarer's identification and record book, or better known as the seaman's book, to up to five years to reduce the regulatory burden on around 400,000 Filipino seafarers.

A seaman's book, which is essential to any maritime worker when boarding a vessel for work anywhere in the world, is only valid for one year and costs around P960 to P1,500. It has to be renewed yearly by a seafarer, who has to endure long lines and long waits at the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) office in Manila.

"Seafarers have to renew the seaman's book every year. If you make it five years, they don't have to fall in line every year. Let them fall in line once every five years if you want," Escudero pointed out.

The veteran lawmaker said that increasing the validity period for seaman's book is just one of the many measures that he and his presidential running mate, Sen. Grace Poe, will implement to ease the burden of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), should they get elected next month.

Escudero earlier revealed that the "Gobyernong may Puso" plans to set up a P100-billion fund for the millions of Filipino migrant workers to finance a wide-ranging services to them, including the establishment of a separate department to cater to the needs of OFWs.

The Poe-Escudero tandem has been proposing reduced fees and greater government assistance for OFWs, which number around 2.3 million. The total migrant population, however, is estimated to around 10 million or 10 percent of the country's entire population.

Of this number, some 401, 826 are sea-based workers as of 2014. The Philippines provides more seafarers to the global market than any country in the world, accounting for more than 25 percent of the world's mariners.

Escudero extolled the seafarers as "modern-day heroes" because they not only keep the Philippine economy afloat but also serve as the country's "sailing ambassadors."

Thus, he promised to relax regulatory requirements for their deployment abroad by cutting the red tape in the processing of their documentation, including licenses and training requirements.

"It would be our way of thanking our sailing ambassadors for their contribution to the economy through their remittances, which averaged to $5.34 billion, or roughly P247 billion, in the last four years," Escudero said.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show that Filipino seafarers remitted an estimated $5.8 billion in cash in 2015. This amount is about one-fifth of the estimated $25.8 billion OFW remittances last year.

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