ALMA Maritime Group addresses and proposed a solution for the current maritime dilemma for returning seamen and quarantine facilities

ALMA Maritime group headed by Blue Ocean Marine and Offshore Solutions Inc. President, Cristina Garcia, addressed and proposed a solution for the maritime sector’s current crisis for repatriation of Filipino seamen and limited quarantine facilities allocated for them. The Philippine maritime sector is gradually recovering from the catastrophic crisis brought by the pandemic. Adding to the crew change dilemma is the inbound flight passenger limit. “Because of this inbound flight passenger limit, international flights flying into the country could only offer limited seating. And, to keep up with their operational expenses, airlines either increase their fares or prioritize selling the most premium and expensive seats or simply cancel the flights. Both increase the costs of crew changes,” said the ALMA Maritime group. That said, “The cost itself fourfold the monthly wage of an average seafarer. The current inbound flight passenger limit imposed by the Philippine government disrupts crew change from efficiently running. And the reason behind the limited number of flight passengers imposed by IATF is the lack of quarantine facilities for Filipinos arriving from overseas.”

ALMA Maritime also stressed that the Philippines now requires a strict measure to keep the newly mutated Delta COVID-19 virus under control by having the inbound Filipino seafarers quarantined for 7-days, which was initially 2-3 days before. If you have a negative RT-CPR result, you will be released from the quarantine facility. “The lengthening quarantine period was matched with reduced pax instead of an increased number of rooms available for quarantining. Currently, the 10-day on-site quarantine requirement in place further takes room slots that could be allocated to other inbound overseas workers – making the problem significantly unresolved,” the ALMA Maritime group stated. Furthermore, debts to quarantine facilities are another reason the Philippines have a restricted number of inbound repatriated seafarers. Currently, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has delayed payments to their accredited quarantine facilities since November 2020. This led the Philippines to reduce the number of Filipino seafarers coming back to the Philippines, risking their safety, instead of pushing the assigned government agency to release the allocated funds solely for seafarers’ quarantine rooms and transport. If not resolved, this will affect the cost of hiring a Filipino crew.

Thus, the ALMA Maritime Group wishes to propose an action to these dilemmas by:

  • Increasing the number of quarantine facilities
  • Increase the Philippine inbound flight passenger limit
  • Immediately release the remaining budgeted funds of OWWA for the quarantine facilities.

Writer: Ejay Nieva

Photo: Döhle Seafront