ALMA group honors stakeholders, partners in fight vs pandemic
As published by The Manila Times on July 13, 2022
One of the most active employers’ groups during the country’s battle with Covid-19 held a general meeting to recognize those who shared significantly in the collective efforts of the manning industry to survive the two-year pandemic.
Leaders of the Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA) took time out from their busy schedules on June 8, 2022 to pay tribute to the people behind the challenging, yet successful mission to protect thousands of Filipino seafarers’ jobs and thus, prevent major interruptions in global trade.
The two-year manning group itself was an offshoot of the industry’s response to the pandemic sometime in 2020 when there were widespread uncertainties caused by the unprecedented lockdowns imposed by the government to arrest the spread of the Covid -19 virus.
Now that the pandemic has somewhat subsided, ALMA seized the opportunity to thank and give well-deserved recognition to people who exerted tremendous efforts, spent sleepless nights, and took great risks even to their personal health and safety to ensure the continuous repatriation and deployment of seafarers during the pandemic.
Foremost among those recognized was Transportation Undersecretary Raul del Rosario who operationalized the “Greenlane,” which was created for the unhampered and safe movement of departing and repatriated seafarers. As head of the IATF Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos (MROF), he is practically available 24/7.
“The undersecretary is very hardworking; we have regular weekly meetings, emergency meetings, as well as special meetings. And he’s very, very effective in running the OSS (One-Stop-Shop),” ALMA President Cristina Garcia said.
Another official that played an immense role in support of the seafarers at the height of the pandemic was then newly appointed Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator Robert Empedrad.
He staunchly insisted on declaring seafarers as essential workers that paved the way for the Greenlane policy and the architect of the crew change hub by opening up the country’s major ports to foreign ships for crew change operations. The move markedly eased up the global crew change crisis.
Empedrad went beyond his mandate just so seafarers could be inoculated. From only 5 percent in June 2021, the number of vaccinated seafarers up for deployment jumped to 90 percent in October.
The manning group also awarded plaques of recognition to the following:
– Assistant Transportation Secretary Narciso Vingson Jr. for overseeing the opening of crew change hubs and operations of the Greenlane
– Tourism officials Ivanovich Agote and May Ramos who handled accreditation of quarantine facilities and monitoring of swabbing.
– Immigration official Usman Abinal and Capt. Eli Ibarrientos of the Philippine Coast Guard for helping in the operation of crew change hubs and IATF MROF members
– Deputy Director Dr. Roberto Salvador of the Bureau of Quarantine for actively participating in crew change hubs/IATF MROF/creating policies on quarantine protocols and border control
– Assistant Foreign Affairs Secretary Paul Reymund Cortez for helping stranded OFWs/repatriation of seafarers especially the extraction in Ukraine
– Marina officials Director Luisito delos Santos of Planning for the creation of the seafarers-covac portal and Capt. Jeffrey Solon for chairing the committee for the vaccination of seafarers.
From the private sector, the first that ALMA recognized was the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (Amosup) represented by its Legal Department chief Atty. Emmanuel Partido for the union’s all-out support for ALMA especially during the nationwide inoculation of seafarers.
A special recognition was made to Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar and Sen. Cynthia Villar for allowing the use of The Tent and the Las Piñas General Hospital for vaccination of seafarers and also to Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory and FirstAide Diagnostics which conducted RT PCR test at lower prices.
Also, it recognized the team that drafted the rules for the vaccination: Capt. Antonio Ladera 3rd of POMI V. Ships, Jessie Rex Martin of Anglo-Eastern, Jean-Vincent Abobo of Solstad Offshore, Sergio Sarno of PTC, Lorraine Banta of Scanmar, Jeannette Tumbali of Fleet Management, and Capt. Rommel Salinas of Hartmann.
ALMA’s core group was also cited: Capt. Greg Sevilla of Avior Marine for his One Health Pass (OHP), Capt. Jose Remo Librodo of Next Wave for the successful extraction of the crew in Ukraine, Atty. Iris Baguilat of Döhle Seafront for the group’s advocacy against ambulance chasing, and Garcia for her presence practically everywhere where ALMA was needed.
The manning group also thanked some members of the maritime press which amplified the many issues that ALMA had championed.