With 68 of its member-companies represented by 87 participants in attendance, FAME pushed through its 2nd General Membership Meeting for 2009 last May 28 at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila.

The event was highlighted with discussions on salient issues affecting the maritime industry which include Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 10-million-scholarship grant to FAME through TESDA, Somalia piracy, A (H1N1) virus, POEA SEC Review, Magna Carta for seafarers, and LUSWELF.

Aside from the members of the Board and the general membership, the meeting was attended by Norwegian guests from On-soft Computer Systems AS. OCS Sales Director Karl Johan Kirkebø presented their product line, a software composed of different modules, for the offshore and shipping industry focusing on solutions for crewing and payroll, and for maintenance management. OCS AS opened office at Manila last June 2, 2009.

Another guest came by the person of 2008 Mt. Everest Filipino-expedition director Mr. Art Valdez. Mr Valdez presented a project called “The Voyage of the Balangay.” He said that it intends to trace the migration of Filipino ancestors onboard an ancient vessel called the balangay. Said vessel will be recreated with authentic designs and materials. It will sail routes around Philippines, Southeast Asia, and even circumnavigate the World. The voyage will be a historical journey that will showcase the great Filipino tradition of seafaring and ship-making as well as rekindle the slowly-being-forgotten legacy of the Filipinos as a maritime people and nation.

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>> TESDA. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and FAME, for and in behalf of the Joint Manning Group, reached an agreement to liquidate a 10-million-peso scholarship grant extended by the government through the PANGULONG GLORIA SCHOLARSHIP to trainee-mariners. This, in the concurrence that FAME ensures at least 60% employment rate among scholars. The fund will be utilized for pre-employment training, skills upgrading, re-tooling of incoming and existing workers in the in-demand skills of the maritime industry.

Mr. Gabriel Bordado V Director IV of TESDA briefed members on the nature, terms, and conditions of the project. Mr. Marlon R. Roño, FAME President pronounced that concerned parties have affirmed their consents to the Memorandum of Agreement. He further exhorted the members to maximize the grant in order to renew another scholarship fund from TESDA in continuation of the program.

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>> Somalia Piracy. Contrary to the report publicized by the media, the Philippine government has not yet made a decree to ban the deployment of seafarers onboard vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden according to FAME president. He also notified members that the Joint Manning Group (JMG) appealed to the government not to pursue for such directive.

As an alternative resolution for said problem, the association made it a commitment to implement measures to ensure the proper training of crews in preparation for high-risk situations. Two weeks ago, a team headed by Mr. Ricky Victoria, was created to develop a training module or training program for the purpose. The industry is encouraged to use it as guide and reference. A symposium will also occur within the month tackling the issue further.

A decisive government resolution regarding this concern is projected to take effect this 15th of June 2009.

Capt. Andrew Malpass from Pandiman Philippines, Inc., on the open forum, clarified that the resolution putting Somalia as a high-risk area is separate and distinct from POEA contract Sec. 21 stating provisions on war and war-like area. Decisions of disembarkation of crews from ships transiting the area, therefore, are commercial decisions and won’t be recoverable under the P&I Club. FAME President Marlon Roño affirmed with the statement.

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>> A (H1N1) Virus. VP for External Affairs, Jose Albar Kato extended the information that the Department of Quarantine urged for cooperation among organizations in the dissemination of information regarding A (H1N1) virus. FAME took stand to insist seafarers returning from high-risk countries to exercise voluntary quarantine, refrain from mingling with others during quarantine period, and self-monitoring in the event of experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Mr. Kato also informed that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) made test kits available for free to those who were discovered to acquire symptoms and brought for inspection. However, voluntary submission for said test is payable to around 4,000 Philippine peso per person.

For the benefit of member agencies, FAME Secretariat disseminated advisory on A (H1N1) Virus for reference and assistance purposes.

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>> POEA Standard Employment Contract. The industry is pushing forth the review of the Standard Employment Contract (SEC) for Seafarers since the association determined that some terms in the contract are seen as subject for amendments. However, no rescheduled date has been set for the continuation of the POEA review said Mr. Ericson Marquez, Board Secretary (FAME).

Mr. Roño also informed that the construction of the proposed separate SEC for Cruise Personnel is being processed in response to the Philippine Cruise Manning Forum that occurred recently.

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>> Omnibus Merchant Marine Shipping Act of the Philippines. DOTC and NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) formulated the Omnibus Merchant Marine Shipping Act of the Philippines. Said agencies solicited comments from FAME. The association will give remarks not later than June 15, 2009 said Capt. Reynaldo Casareo, Board Director.

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>> Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarer. FAME Legal Committee decided not to submit any comment on the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers unless the planned amendment of POEA SEC and Rules and Regulations is completed.

Issue on “work-related and non-work-related illness” is still being reviewed according to FAME President and no official position on the matter is held by the organization yet.

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>> LUSWELF. – 26 February 2009 FAME general membership meeting, the general membership passed a resolution to refrain participation from LUSWELF recruitment booth. Entire industry participated following joint resolution between PJMCC, COMMA, INTERMAP, PAMAS, FSA and FAME. Resolution was sent to LUSWELF, AMOSUP, DOLE, POEA, MARINA, OWWA and CHED. Transformation of the area to welfare and recreation facilities for seafarers are being deliberated and negotiated with LUSWELF administration.