MANILA – The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) lauded efforts of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the vaccination of Filipino seafarers during its deactivation ceremony on 12 April 2022, at the MARINA Central Office.

In the ceremony entitled “Ang Pagpupugay at Pasasalamat: Recognition Rites and Deactivation Ceremony of the Technical Working Group on the Vaccination Program,” the MARINA, led by Administrator Vice Admiral Robert A Empedrad, expressed the Agency’s gratefulness for the TWG in the success of endeavour for the Filipino seafarers, their families and every personnel in the maritime industry.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Technical Working Group. Sila talaga ‘yung backbone nito. Sila talaga ‘yung nagtrabaho. No words can be found to express our gratitude to you,” Administrator Empedrad said.

It may be recalled that in coordination with the partner agencies and maritime stakeholders and associations, the TWG on Vaccination, spearheaded by STCWO Deputy Executive Director Capt Jeffrey P. Solon, was eventually established in order to push the inoculation of the key workers and their families, and other frontline maritime workers.

Administrator Empedrad likewise conveyed his appreciation for Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade and other agencies in the maritime sector for the support. “I would also like to express my gratitude to DOTr Secretary Tugade for his support, and for pushing for the vaccination of our seafarers, and even told me to involve the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Philippine Ports Authority in the vaccination program that we have started in 2021,” he stated.

As part of the awarding ceremony, plaques of appreciation were given to Congresswoman Camille A. Villar, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Department of Health (DOH), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center, Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) and its affiliated offices in Iloilo and Davao, including the AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital Cebu – Vaccination Team, ALMA Maritime Group Corporation, Philippine-Japan Manning Consultative Council, Inc. (PJMCC), Filipino Association for Mariner’s Employment, Inc. (FAME), team of Ms. Divina Zuniga, Philippine Association of Manning Agencies and Ship Managers (PAMAS), Filipino Shipowners Association (FSA) and International Maritime Association of the Philippines (INTERMAP) for their remarkable leadership, commitment, and unwavering support leading to the success of the Vaccination Program for OFWs (Sea-based and Land-based), Families and Ancillary Service Personnel.

Certificates of Commendation were also awarded to several maritime stakeholders and partner agencies, as well as those MARINA personnel who were involved in the vaccination efforts, for their invaluable work, commitment, and paramount dedication leading to the success of the vaccination program.

Administrator Empedrad also conveyed his admiration to all the Filipino seafarers who have remained resilient and have continued to keep the global economy running afloat despite the uncertainties and challenges concerning port access, lockdowns, crew changeovers, and repatriation. “They [seafarers] continue at sea to make sure na makakarating ang mga pangangailangan natin. Without them, probably, we have more casualty than we have ever imagined during the pandemic.”

Achieving the project’s primary goal of addressing the inoculation of Filipino seafarers, the Vaccination TWG was formally deactivated through the signing of the Declaration of Project Completion by its Chair and the Administration.

Lastly, with the TWG’s deactivation, Administrator Empedrad assured the seafaring community that the MARINA is geared up to revive the Team when the situation calls for it.