MANILA – The maritime sector of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), consisting of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), has facilitated the arrival of approximately 1000 Filipino crew members aboard MV “Norwegian Encore” at the Port of Manila last 11 April 2021.

According to the One-Stop Shop for Seafarers in the Port of Manila (OSS-POM), headed by PPA Port Manager Eligio P. Fortajada of Port Management Office (PMO) NCR-South, the repatriated Filipino seafarers, who all underwent profiling from the Department of Health (DOH), will undergo the mandatory quarantine and testing protocols set by the national government before their disembarkation. The said vessel will be used as the quarantine facility under the strict supervision of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

In accordance with the crew change protocol of the government, the seafarers shall undergo swab testing on the sixth day of their quarantine proper, which will be handled by the PCG and the First Aide Molecular Laboratory, the RT-PCR molecular testing laboratory authorized by the national port authority. Doctors and nurses, who are all under the supervision of BOQ, will be onsite to assist the seafarers.

Expenses for the swab tests will be subsidized through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as Republic Act No. 1149, which will be facilitated by the PPA. Under this law, the Philippine government has allotted Php 270 million for the free RT-PCR testing of returning Filipino seafarers to alleviate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the seafaring industry.

The Philippines, having positioned itself as a crew change capital in the world through the DOTr and its maritime sector, commits to provide world-class services to international vessels needing fresh crew onboard amid the pandemic. The member agencies of the OSS also collectively assure the public that the government is ensuring that health and safety protocols are strictly observed to help prevent and manage the continued threat of the COVID-19 disease.

[Photos courtesy of PMO NCR South]