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1 of 4 seamen around the globe is a Filipino
« on: May 04, 2007, 09:27:26 PM »
GMA 7 Online News

One of four seafarers around the globe today is a Filipino, putting the Philippines in the big league of the world’s maritime industry, according to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Feliciano G. Salonga.

Salonga, who has been considered as one of the pillars in the Philippine maritime industry, noted statistics showing that remittances of Filipino seamen into the country have reached US$3.5 billion, helping stabilize the country's economy for the last 25 years.

"Last year alone, these remittances comprised 3.5% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is no mean feat considering that we only have 300,000 seamen of 82 million population," Salonga explained.

Speaking before this year's graduates of Bachelor of Science in Maritime Transportation and Marine Engineering at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), Salonga challenged the SBMA to rally the maritime sector towards competitiveness and productivity.

"What is now happening in the Subic Bay, especially given the huge personality of Hanjin and the modern container port, should convince everyone that the Philippines has now become a great maritime nation and power," Salonga said.

Based on records, he said, the principal avenues of transportation in the Philippines are the inter-island sea lanes, connecting the more than 300,000 ports and harbors [in the world] where 90 percent of commercial goods are being ferried.

Salonga said, “When you sail under foreign flags, work with sense of pride and obligation as Filipinos serve in a global context, not only for your loved ones but for the entire profession and the industry, so that the stamp excellence of Filipino mariners will remain our reputation."

The SBMA has urged the Global Maritime and Transportation School of the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, to study the possibility of putting up a similar school in San Narciso, Zambales.

If the school materializes, it would be the first of its kind in Asia, which could provide opportunities for PMMA graduates to hone further their maritime skills.

The Philippine maritime industry is expected to contribute about US$2-3 billion to the country's annual export earnings starting next year with its unprecedented growth in terms of productivity and job generation, Salonga earlier said.

Salonga cited the entry of South Korea's Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) (KSE:003480) with its US$1 billion shipbuilding facilities inside the Subic Bay Freeport and which is scheduled to produce 12 ships by June next year.

"Hanjin is not only the Philippines' biggest single foreign direct investments of 2006 but its entry can also be regarded as the single most dramatic development in our country's growth as the Asias new maritime powerhouse," he said.

As of March, Hanjin has already generated 6,900 direct and indirect jobs compared to just about 2,400 workers during the early stage of its construction in September last year.

It is projected to create as high as 30,000 jobs in a span of three years.

"That is why, we at the SBMA continue to push the development of the freeport zone not only as a tourist destination and logistics hub but also as a maritime industrial base," Salonga said.

He added that enormous maritime resources with highly knowledgeable and skilled human resources are needed to create wealth in maritime industry.

In addition to shipbuilding and ship repair, Salonga said, the country also has vast potential in the area of regional transshipment hub for Asia-Pacific operations.

"Singapore and Hong Kong with their lesser ports, earn US$20 billion a year from transshipments alone. Given our many well-endowed natural harbors like Subic Bay, the Philippines can do well or even better," Salonga said.

He noted that the Subic Port development project is about 92 percent complete.

"The time has come for us in the maritime sector to help shape the future of our country and the Filipinos by pushing the maritime industry to live up to its role as the new major contributor to Philippine growth and progress," he stressed. – GMANews.TV

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