The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) formally opens the celebration of the 22nd National Maritime Week through a virtual conference today, 20 September 2021.
PCG Commandant, CG Vice Admiral Leopoldo V Laroya led the virtual opening ceremony. He expressed his sincere gratitude to participating stakeholders who, despite the global pandemic, keep up the momentum and aspiration in implementing strategies that improve the growth of the Philippine maritime industry.
“The government, through the Department of Transportation (DOTr), has been unceasingly modernizing the Philippine Coast Guard. We can now boast that our PCG is equipped with response vessels that can assist during search and rescue operations, and during maritime safety and security patrol operations,” the Coast Guard Commandant said.
“I hope that somehow, it gives a boost to the confidence of our seafarers and partners in the shipping industry, especially when navigating our waters. We are continuously modernizing and augmenting our forces to ensure that we got the nation’s seas and ports well covered from evolving maritime threats. You can count that your safety and security are our utmost priorities,” CG Vice Admiral Laroya furthered.
For his part, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator, Vice Admiral Robert A Empedrad highlighted the major initiatives of the agency to promote the welfare of Filipino seafarers such as strengthening vaccination among Filipino seafarers, the establishment of Malasakit Help Desks in major gateways in the country, and the extension of validity of seafarer certificates.
“Our theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future’ only emphasized the importance of our modern heroes, the Filipino seafarers, during the pandemic,” Vice Admiral Empedrad expressed.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager, Attorney Jay Daniel R. Santiago assured Filipino seafarers of further support towards building the Philippines as the crew change capital in the world, apart from setting up of crew change hubs in Manila, Bataan, Batangas, and Davao, and provision of free COVID-19 testing to all seafarers arriving in the country.
“Ang PPA po ay maglalaan ng mahigit 1,000 metro kwadradong lote dito sa Port of Manila kung saan po magtatayo tayo ng dormitoryo para sa mga marino. Ito po ay para may matirhan sila sa Maynila habang nag-aasikaso ng kanilang papeles sa paglalayag,” GM Santiago added.
Concluding the virtual opening ceremony was DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade who recorded a special message to recognize Filipino seafarers as key workers of worldwide industries, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nalalaman po natin at naiintindihan na malaki ang demand sa Filipino seafarers sa pandaigdigang industriya. The Philippines is providing around 400,000 seafarers worldwide or the equivalent of 30% of the total global requirement,” Secretary Tugade shared.
“For us in the DOTr, we strongly support the giving of due recognition for Filipino seafarers as key workers especially this time of pandemic. Kaya nga ba ang buong DOTr Maritime Sector ay buong pwersa sa pagsulong ng mga inisiyatibo na magpoprotekta at mangangalaga sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayang seafarers. We will remain firm and strong in ensuring the Philippines’ commitment as an effective partner in global maritime affairs” the DOTr Secretary assured.
Highlights of the 22nd Maritime Week celebration from 20 to 26 September 2021 include the Coast Guard’s capability demonstration, PCG personnel capability performance, webinar on marine environmental protection, a forum on contemporary issues concerning maritime safety maritime security, and marine environmental protection, nationwide simultaneous coastal clean-up drives, and the celebration of the National Seafarers Day. (PCG)