“You are given the unique privilege to serve the country.”


This was the reminder of Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to the seventh batch of graduates of the NYK-TDG Maritime Academy in Laguna last 17 Nov. 2017.


Tugade, who served as the Commencement Speaker, told the cadets that merchant marine officers have a duty to the nation and are given a unique privilege to show the world the brand of professionalism, hard work, and excellence of Filipino workers.


“Napakapalad ninyo dahil mabibigyan kayo ng pagkakataong ipakita sa buong mundo ang kakayahan ng mga Pilipino. Saan man kayo makarating, my only plea is that you always keep within you, your love for our country,” Sec Tugade said.


Tugade also assured the graduates that the government is doing its part to improve the state of the country’s maritime industries by building infrastructure, instituting new polices, and implementing reforms.


Among these reforms is the streamlining of processes to allow seafarers to process their requirements faster and more efficiently.


The issuance of seafarer’s book, which took 15 days in the past, now only takes one day. The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) also launched an online appointment system for quicker processing. The validity of the Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB) was likewise extended from 5 years to 10 years, benefitting around 90,000 Filipino seafarers.


The MARINA also launched the formulation for a 10-year Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP) aimed at making the Philippines a major maritime nation, wherein the maritime sector plays a key role in economic growth and development.


Under the Build Build Build Infrastructure Program, the DOTr is building maritime infrastructure to improve and promote inter-island sea transportation across the country, such as container ports, barge terminal, and port modernization projects.


The Philippines is among the top producers of personnel in the manning and seafaring profession. According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Filipino seafarers account for more than 25 percent of the 1.5 million mariners worldwide. According to MARINA, 450,000 out of the 780,000 total registered Filipino seafarers are now overseas.


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