H.E. ANTONIO M. LAGDAMEO
Internationa Day of the Seafarer, 25 June 2020
Ladies and gentlemen, we at the Philippine Embassy to the United Kingdom, which is also the Philippine permanent delegation to the International Maritime Organisation, greet you all on the occasion of the International Day of the Seafarer.
Because over 80% of global trade is transported by sea, the work of seafarers is vital to the world’s economy, even during normal times. Their role becomes even more crucial to all of us in the midst of major upheavals, such as the COVID-19 pandemic we currently find ourselves in. Seafarers ensure that the world is able to trade despite the challenges and disruptions that have been magnified by current circumstances. Like healthcare professionals, seafarers are at the frontline of the response to this pandemic because their work allows food, medicine, fuel and other vital supplies to reach those who need them the most.
Ironically, seafarers have also suffered much as the world responded to COVID-19. Travel restrictions meant to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus have also limited seafarers’ access to ports and essential services. Many of them have been separated from family and loved ones far longer than usual, sometimes for periods that can no longer be considered healthy. This, I believe, makes today’s observance even more meaningful, as we pause to acknowledge their important contribution to global trade, and the many hardships they endure as they carry out their duties.
Of the more than 1.6 million seafarers plying the waves, nearly half a million are Filipinos. We at the Philippine Embassy recognize the huge contribution of these men and women not only to the world’s seaborne trade but also to our country’s economy. To honour them, the Embassy ensures that we remain accessible for their consular needs, especially in these critical times. We continue to be vigilant in ensuring that their rights are protected and their welfare is promoted. And through our representation at the IMO, we ensure that the international community recognizes the inherent value of Filipino seafarers to the world at large.
Happy International Day of the Seafarer. May you have fair winds and following seas.
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