This is the speech of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles during the commissioning rites of M/V Kapitan Oca on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at Manila South Harbor Pier 13.

Good afternoon. Isang magandang hapon sa ating lahat.

This is, indeed, a historic day for the maritime industry and the tens of thousand of our seafarers and overseas Filipino workers who all stand to benefit from the commissioning of one of the country’s largest training ships: the M/V Kapitan Gregorio Oca.

On behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you; first, Dr. Conrado F. Oca, President of Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) and Chairman of the Governing Board of Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP).

With us also are our friends from the International Mariners Management of Japan (IMMAJ), MIHO Shipyard Co., AJSU, the Phil-Japan Manning Consultative Council (PJMCC), and TSUNEISHI Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

I would also like to congratulate MAAP, whose trainees will be the first to benefit from this new ship, which can bring aboard 138 people: 24 of whom are officers and crew, 108 midshipmen or trainees, and six instructors. That’s quite a sizable manpower complement in a truly remarkable vessel befitting a sector that has been helping our country grow and flourish for decades.

It is common knowledge in government, the maritime sector, and beyond our shores that Filipino seafarers are world class. In fact, even the chairman of the International Mariners Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ) has admitted that Filipino seafarers are the top choice of Philippine-Japanese ship managers and owners.

Allow me to cite some numbers to buttress this assertion. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) shows that 378,072 Filipino seafarers were deployed all over the world, and as a consequence this means that close to a third of the world’s seafarers are from the Philippines. Of this number, close to 40,000 Filipino seafarers work on Japan’s 3,000 merchant ships––a figure that corresponds to over 70% percent of Japan’s maritime personnel.

The reputation of the Filipino seafarer is such that a European shipping company with a manpower agency in Manila has been hiring all-Filipino crews for its tanker fleet since 2004. This only serves to emphasize that Filipinos are the most sought-after seafarers in the global shipping industry. Filipinos are the first choice to man ships at sea––from luxury cruise ships to giant tankers.

Because of the sheer number of Filipino seafarers working abroad, it is not surprising that out of every 100 US dollars in personal cash remittances that the country receives from overseas Filipinos, 20 US dollars come from seafarers. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Filipino sailors sent home via our banks a total of 1.9 billion dollars from January to April in 2018. Sa madaling salita, napakalaki po talaga ang ambag ng mga seaman natin.

This is why the government, led by our President, has been adopting measures to assist our OFWs––especially our seafarers––by providing benefits and perks befitting modern day heroes. Just over a year into the President’s term, Congress passed Republic Act 10928, which extends the validity of the Philippine passport to ten years––a boon for seafarers who want to spend their shore time with loved ones, instead of lining up for official documents they need. Last July, Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello reported that the government established 17 One-Stop Shop Service Centers where OFWs can avail of government services. These One-Stop Shops, according to Participatory Governance Cluster (PGC) Co-chair DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno, have extended assistance to 1.22 million OFWs. Secretary Bello likewise reported that the first-ever OFW Bank has also been created to respond to the financial needs
of Filipino migrant workers and their families.

All these efforts are part of the 10-Point Socio-economic Agenda of the Duterte Administration, which also calls for heavy investments in human capital development, including health and education systems, and the matching of skills
and training to meet the demands of businesses and the private sector.

The ultimate objective of this agenda, as spelled out in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan, is a future wherein “every Filipino enjoys a matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay.”

Security. Prosperity. And Peace. These are big words to fulfill. Yet, these are all achievable if the foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society and a globally-competitive knowledge economy are established by 2022.

And in these critical efforts of government, training institutions like the MAAP become an enabler of growth for the maritime industry and its varied markets and clientele. It provides the avenue and direction for modern maritime technologies that help ensure the safety of our Filipino seafarers, as they risk their lives in providing the industry an unmatched level of service.

Sa pagpalaot ng M/V Kapitan Gregorio Oca, dala nito ang pangalan ng Pilipinong Mandaragat, na siyang karangalan at tagapagbantog ng kanyang bayan sa daigdig.

M/V Kapitan Oca is not just a modern training ship; it is a symbol of MAAP’s commitment to pursue the highest level of excellence in maritime training and education. It also represents our government’s resolve to promote the highest standards of safety and professionalism in the maritime industry.

In the end, it is the Filipino seafarer who shall benefit from our investments in shipping technologies and infrastructure. Equipped and empowered, our sailors can venture further out into the world’s vast seas, conquer new territories, and continue to excel among the seafarers of the world as Filipino champions of the oceans––patunay po na magaling ang Pilipino kahit sa anumang larangan.

What the MAAP and the AMOSUP is bequeathing our seafarers is as invaluable and precious as M/V Kapitan Gregorio Oca. You are validating what the world’s top shipping companies already know: that the Filipino seafarer, descendants of the ancient baranggay seamen, is in a class of his own—intelligent, resourceful, skilled, and passionate.

As American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper said, “a ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for;” I join all of you in sending off M/V Kapitan Gregorio Oca to do what it was built for––confident that its officers and crew will find the treasures of bounty and blessings for themselves, their families, and their beloved country in our seas and beyond.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay ang Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines at ang Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific. Maligaya at pinagpalang paglalayag, M/V Kapitan Gregorio Oca!

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