‘December renewal of seaman’s book bad news’

A top manning agency may lose its golden opportunity to supply cruise ships with hundreds of Filipino seafarers due to the delay in the renewal of seaman’s book by the Maritime Industry Authority.

Atty. Carmela Magpantay, the legal counsel of CF Sharp Crew Management Inc., appealed to Marina to resolve its backlog on seaman’s book as many applicants for cruise ship jobs cannot get hired without the document.

“Marina said appointments for the issuance for the renewal of seaman’s book will open in December, which is bad news for us because we cannot deploy our people without that. We can lose that golden opportunity,” Magpantay said on the Daily Tribune’s Usapang OFW: The Maritime Corner.

Magpantay said foreign shipowners may hire seafarers of other nationalities rather than Filipinos even if the latter are the most sought-after crew in the global merchant fleet.

Shipowners will not waste time waiting for Filipino seafarers to become available as they are also in a hurry to serve the growing cruise ship market, according to her.

The demand for cruise ship staff has surged since February and is now enormous as travel is going back to the pre-pandemic level, according to Magpantay.

“It’s totally different from 2020 to 2021 or during the onset of the pandemic. In fact, the demand for hotel crew or those who are working as waiters, recreation and photographers, among others, we need 920 personnel to date until December. For the deck and engine, we need to fill out 71 demands. That’s for our company alone,” she said.

“The demand is there, it’s unfortunate for those neophyte seafarers. How can they be processed without that? Marina has been denying that and there is no admission from them until now. A lot of manning agency groups are calling out Marina several times for that glitch. If there is no admission, how can we identify that there is indeed a persisting problem?” Magpantay added.

She said the challenge now is the fast renewal of seaman’s books by Marina.

Arsenio Lingad II, director of Marina’s Manpower Development Service, told Daily Tribune that the agency is meeting to discuss the issue.

The head of the Marina department in charge of issuing seaman’s book declined to comment further as clearance from his superiors is required to do so.

Earlier, Marina maintained that there is no scarcity of seaman’s book, but admitted that there’s a bit of delay in releasing Seafarer’s Identification Cards because of the scarcity of microchips caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

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