Pinoy sailors send home $6B thru banks

FILIPINO sailors on foreign ocean-going vessels sent home a record $6.14 billion through the banking system in 2018, up 4.6 percent or $270 million from the $5.87 billion in 2017, the party-list group ACTS-OFW said Sunday.

“The amount does not include money remitted via non-bank channels as well as cash physically brought home by sailors on vacation,” said ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III.

By country of origin, Bertiz said the top sources of cash transfers from Filipino sailors last year were the United States, $2.31 billion; Singapore, $563.85 million; Germany, $560.98 million; Japan, $435.82 million; the United Kingdom, $331.23 million; Hong Kong, $275.53 million; the Netherlands, $259.12 million; Greece, $174.98 million; Panama, $163.62 million; Cyprus, $125.19 million; and Norway, $115.98 million.

“We see the demand for Filipino sailors rising steadily in tandem with international merchant ship traffic, as economies around the world continue to expand,” Bertiz said.

The International Monetary Fund earlier said it expects the global economy to grow at 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020.

Filipino sailors serve on bulk carriers, container ships, oil, gas, chemical and other product tankers, general cargo ships, pure car carriers and tugboats around the world.

Many Filipinos also provide housekeeping, guest relations, culinary, front office and other maintenance services on cruise ships and floating casinos.

Meanwhile, ACTS-OFW wants the government to invest more funds in providing free maritime education through state universities and colleges (SUCs).

“Maritime education for the youth offers a way for poor families to move into the middle class,” Bertiz said.

“Thus, we intend to push a special higher education fund that will encourage SUCs, especially those in the provinces, to either put up new maritime institutes or expand their existing marine programs,” Bertiz said.

Graduates of Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and the Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering, once licensed and certified, become officers on foreign ships – masters, chief mates, officers-in-charge of a navigational watch, chief engineers, second engineers and officers-in-charge of engineering watch.

Bertiz also cited the need for SUCs to help produce a greater number of master degree holders in marine education to ensure that maritime schools would have highly qualified instructors in the years ahead.