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Over 1000 seafarers were inoculated on the Day of the Filipino Seafarer, as the Inter-agency Technical Working Group launched a nationwide vaccination drive for mariners, while Taguig City conducted its own vaccination dedicated to seafarers.

Health workers of AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital and the City of Manila administered Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 jabs to 550 seafarers at AMOSUP-JSU Sen’in No Ie (Seafarer House) in Intramuros, Manila. Dr. Conrado F. Oca, President of the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) acknowledged Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso for providing the personnel and vaccines, and for including seafarers in the city’s vaccination rollout.  Dr. Oca also extended his gratitude to World Health Organization Philippines for its involvement in the program.

One of the seafarers who got vaccinated, 35-year-old Master Mariner, Capt. Jasmin Labarda, expressed her gratitude to the government for finally prioritizing maritime professionals. “After 3 contracts, about 20 countries and numerous port calls, 13 RT-PCR and 1 Antigen tests, 6 NAIA international departures and arrivals, napabakunahan na rin,” she said.

“Now that I am vaccinated, I want to spread the word and help… If this would be the way for us to gain freedom in life, let us do it together for our country,” Capt. Labarda added.

Concurrently, 150 mariners were vaccinated at Gig Oca Robles Seamen’s Hospital in Davao, 93 at AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital in Iloilo and 25 at AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital in Cebu. The Maritime Industry Authority also held simultaneous inoculations of domestic and overseas seafarers at MARINA regional offices in the country. Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Chairperson of Senate Committee on Health, attended the program in Manila as Guest of Honor. Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Vaccine Czar and Chief Implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF), Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad AFP (Ret), Administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and Vice Admiral Rene Villena Medina AFP (Ret), Executive Director of the STCW Office of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), accompanied Senator Go.

The COVID-19 vaccination drive that jabbed the biggest number of seafarers on a single day to date, was made possible by the Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Health – Bureau of Quarantine (DOH-BOQ), Department of Foreign Affairs – Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office (DFA-MOAO), as well as the MARINO Partylist, maritime employers organizations Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA) and Joint Manning Group (JMG) and the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP).

Meanwhile, Taguig City jabbed more than 500 seafarers at the Glass Hall of Lakeshore 2 in Taguig. City Mayor Lino Cayetano, Vice Mayor Ricardo Cruz, Senator Pia Cayetano, Former Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, Congresswoman Lani Cayetano welcomed AMOSUP President, Dr. Conrado F. Oca as Special Guest at the LGU-led vaccination program for sea-based workers. Secretary Vivencio “Vince” Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) was also in attendance.

Dr. Oca thanked Taguig City for “graciously recognizing the seafarers who are essential key workers,” he said. The president of the 60-year-old maritime union also appealed to all the Local Government Units across the country to follow suit. “We hope other LGUs will follow Manila and Taguig’s example of vaccinating seafarers – our country’s economic frontliners,” he said.

In his “International Day of the Seafarer” and “Day of the Filipino Seafarer” Message, Dr. Oca honored all the Filipino seafarers serving onboard ships across the world, “We honor and recognize all of you. I know that it has been extraordinarily difficult for you as we continue to battle the worst health crisis of our generation… We at AMOSUP are with you at this challenging time and we acknowledge how all of these affect your physical and mental health, and overall wellbeing.”

Dr. Oca reiterated his commitment to continuing AMOSUP’s efforts to ensure that all seafarers are safe and protected against COVID-19. “I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are doing our best to help and see you through,” he concluded.

Filipino seafarers constitute twenty five percent of the world’s 1.5 million sea-based workers. The Philippines remains to be the leading source of seafarers globally with 730,651 active seafarers according to the latest data from MARINA. AMOSUP’s general membership is composed of over 100,000 Filipino male and female seafarers.