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Marino urges DFA to waive 9 (c) Visa for foreign seafarers

Raffy Ayeng

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THE seafarer’s lone representation at the Lower House, MARINO Party-list, has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to waive the 9(C) visa of foreign nationals performing crew change in the country’s designated ports.

MARINO Partylist Representative Macnell Lusotan, in a statement, asked the DFA to revisit its implementing guidelines when it comes to disembarking foreign seafarers in the country, as it is deemed to be “counterproductive” to the Philippines’ ambition to be an international hub for a crew change.

Lusotan explained that the measure was enjoyed by Filipino seafarers performing crew change in two Asian countries – namely Singapore and India – and said the two had become lenient as to disembarkation of foreign nationals on their home turf.

“The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore enhanced their crew change by considering compassionate grounds for allowing seafarers to disembark, while India allowed disembarkation as long as the seafarer presents a temporary landing permit,” according to Lusotan.

Based on the current DFA guidelines, the foreign seafarer must possess a valid 9(C) Philippine-issued visa upon arrival in the country. Acquiring this Visa requires stringent requirements.

Lusotan said the current measure is impossible to comply, given the situation that some ship owners decide to divert their ships to Philippine waters for a crew change on abrupt notices.

Lusotan added the arrival of foreign seafarers will as well open employment opportunities to Filipino seafarers and will be a win-win for both the seafarer and the country’s economy.

“The advantage of this is when the foreign seafarers disembark, it will give way for Filipino seafarers to replace the posts of foreign seafarers. In addition, crew change will give the Philippines the much-needed revenue. For 90 ships per month to be diverted to our country, for example, Japan, it will generate at least P 67.9M in regulatory fees alone, so it will help our economy grapple with the effects of the COVID-19,” the lawmaker added.

Lusotan, MARINO’s 2nd nominee, expressed hope that his request will be pondered and considered by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, as the country’s economy will be benefited from the measure’s retweaking.

“Sana maconsider natin ito lalo na at nangangailangan tayo ng revenue at tsaka ‘yung employment [ng mga marinong Pilipino] at ‘yung remittances,” Lusotan averred.

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