BATANGAS - In an effort to facilitate the swift and safe turnover of ship crew amid the pandemic, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agencies, namely, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), successfully conducted today, 11 December 2020, the simulation and dry-run of crew change hub operations at Batangas Port.
Following the Inter-Agency meeting and ocular inspection, DOTr Undersecretary and OTS Administrator Raul del Rosario and OIC-Assistant Secretary for Maritime Vice-Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr. led the testing of the operation protocols in preparation for the activation of crew change hub located at the said port. This is to ensure that health and safety procedures shall be duly observed by the government agencies and private stakeholders in the conduct of crew changes in Batangas.
The change crew hub houses a “One-Stop Shop” (OSS) where arriving and disembarking seafarers will undergo the mandatory RT-PCR testing and triaging procedures. Thereafter, they are set off to a government-accredited quarantine facility while waiting for the result of their swab test. The OSS is also a facility where all government services relative to crew changes are provided.
The Batangas hub shall commence its operations upon the issuance of a resolution of the Batangas Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19, authorizing the conduct of crew changes in the province.
Following the directive of DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, the activation of crew change hubs in the country aims to provide maritime vessels the safe avenue to refresh their manpower, especially given the current situation, and the array of health and safety restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also in line with the vision of the Department in making the Philippines the “crew change capital of the world.”
Other crew change hubs already activated are in Subic, Bataan, Port of Manila, Cebu and Davao.
As of 11 December, the OSS across the country have already served a total of 1,409 ships engaged in international trade, as well as 23,609 Filipino and foreign seafarers.
Crew change is essential to ensure seafarers’ safety, health, welfare and employment, as they can only serve onboard a vessel without leave up to a maximum of 11 months, based on International Labor Organization (ILO) 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC).
Also present during the activity were PPA Port Manager Joselito Sinocruz, MARINA Region IV Director Emmanuel Carpio, PCG District of Southern Tagalog Commodore Tito Alvin Andal, together with IATF Incident Commander from the Provincial Government of Batangas Dr. Gerald G. Albay and Mr. Rodrigo dela Roca from the Provincial Government of Batangas, as well as representatives from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
11 December 2020