CHEd asked to regulate enrolment of maritime courses

The country’s mariners urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Thursday to regulate enrolment of maritime courses, saying there is a surplus of marine graduates who remain jobless or end up working in a different field or become victims of illegal recruitment.

Milton Unso, president of the Mariners Association for Regional and International Networking Organization (MARINO), said the regulation of enrolment for marine courses is one of the key measures that will resolve the challenges currently faced by the seafaring sector particularly on the oversupply of sea-based workers.

“Of the estimated 950,000 excess in seafarers, only some 250,000 could be accommodated at a time. The rest, they either end up doing nothing or get duped by illegal recruiters,’’ Unso told the Manila Bulletin.

“We are suggesting to the CHEd to stop enrolment for the meantime until after concerns on oversupply, among others have been sorted out,’’ he added.

Unso said despite stringent policies on the hiring and deployment of sea-based workers, illegal recruiters could still dupe as high as 50,000 jobless marine graduates and even those seafarers on-standby.

“Mahirap talaga i-address ang illegal recruitment sa sea-based workers. I worry those jobless graduates especially from the provinces kasi they are really the ones prone to illegal recruitment,’’ he said.

In addition, he said the global seafaring sector is also yet to address the dilemma of marine officer shortage.

Unso, who has sailed for 25 years, however, expressed optimism that improvements would be made soon in promoting the welfare and benefits of the Filipino seamen.

Earlier, his group opposed a specific provision in the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 requiring an insurance of US$15,000 for each seaman.

Citing international studies, he said Filipino mariners comprise 28 percent of the total global supply of seafarers.

“This means that nine out of 10 vessels have Filipino seamen. It implies that we are really in demand,’’ he said.

But in the local front, Unso said more efforts should be made by all sectors concerned to improve the plight of all seafarers.

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