Hon. Hans Leo J. Cacdac made his first appearance to FAME as the new Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) during the 1st FAME General Membership Meeting of the year last Thursday, 09 March 2017 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila. He was the Guest of Honor to the occasion.

“It is good to be back home” begins a smiling Cacdac while the crowd stood off their seat to welcome the newly appointed official. As a former Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the now OWWA Administrator has always been part of the maritime industry- and the FAME Board did not forget to acknowledge that.

Administrator Cacdac delivered his report brief and straightforward stressing on the implementation of the Republic Act 10801 (OWWA Act), the PDOS for the Filipino Seafarers and the new programs of OWWA for the Seafaring and Maritime Industry. In summary, the Speaker reported that the IRR of the R.A 10801 has already been signed by all the OWWA Board of Trustees last 06 March 2017 and will take effect by 24 March 2017 following its publication on two newspapers of general circulation in 08 March 2017. Under the new law, the OWWA membership is now valid for two years for both land-based and sea-based workers. The Agency likewise drafted a Memorandum of Instruction on the revised guidelines of PDOS, particularly the separation of land-based and sea-based guidelines on the implementation of PDOS. OWWA will continue its implementation of the Seafarer’s Upgrading Program (SUP) as part of their programs for the Seafaring and Maritime Industry. These courses are also regularly updated in compliance with the prescribed maritime training courses of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention. Responding to the request of the Joint Ship Manning Group (JMG), the OWWA Board of Trustees has allocated Fifty Million Pesos (Php 50 million) as financial assistance/subsidy for Marine Deck and Engine Officers who will take Management Level Updating Courses (MLCs) to qualify them on board and to update themselves and comply with the new requirements of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the 1978 International Convention on STCW. This provides financial subsidy amounting to Php 7,500.00 to active OWWA seabased-members who will take up updating MLCs. Other OWWA programs include embarking on a Good Parenting and Anti Child Abuse advocacy campaign and participation to the Workshop of the Special Tripartite Committee on Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) of which the Administrator will be attending. The workshop, which will be held in Geneva on the first week of April 2017, will discuss the proposal of having anti-piracy amendments to the MLC. The Speaker as well granted few questions from the floor to provide better explanation of the report.

On FAME and other industry updates, the FAME Board reported that the Joint Ship Manning Group (JMG) has initiated a strategic plan for overseas and domestic shipping entitled “Maritime Road Map for Blue Philippines” which comprises all sectors in the Philippine maritime industry. Similarly, the Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP) proposed their own version called “National Maritime Agenda. Both envision establishing a stronger maritime administration and increasing or developing more jobs in the seabased sector. Upon initial dialogue, it was proposed having a summit to further discuss the implementation of both proposals. The issue on the Panama certification was likewise tackled and according to the Panama Consulate, one of the reasons of the delay in the issuance of Panama certificates is the lack of manpower. Upon agreement, JMG donated computer units and will also provide manpower assistance to the Embassy to assist in speeding up applications. The Panama Ambassador then committed to release temporary certificates (CTs) within two (2) working days if all documents are complete and correct. The Panama Embassy likewise ensured issuing same certificate in cases of emergency. The Board also did not hold back in expressing their frustration for the exclusion of the industry’s proposals to the final draft of the POEA Rules and Regulations, which has already been approved by the Governing Board of POEA. FAME nevertheless assured seeking considerations to the POEA on the provisions which are still unacceptable to the maritime sector. A brief updating was also provided to issues concerning the JMG’s position on STC Questionnaire on piracy & robbery, government response on piracy Incidents at Celebes Sea and Sulu Sea, clarification on the applicabilityof National Heroes Day, US Visa application, implementation of the PDOS for overseas seafarers and the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers. The alarming yet real condition of the global shipping industry as well was presented. On another note, the assembly marked FAME’s first increase of membership dues since year 2000.

Adding highlight to the assembly was the awarding of Membership Certificate to new FAME member, Synergygroup Operations Inc. Capt. Joselito Monreal, the company’s CEO and official representative to FAME accepted the certificate.

A total of 101 members and guests attended the 1st FAME annual general assembly for 2017.