News 11 Feb, 2008

Philippines: Ban on Deployment of Filipino Crews Aboard Liner Vessels Trading to Nigeria

The Association's correspondents in the Philippines, Pandiman Philippines Inc., have alerted the Managers to a memorandum issued on 17 December 2007 by the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE). The memorandum essentially institutes a total ban on the deployment of all Filipino workers to Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Nigeria.

On 31 January 2008 the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued an Advisory to manning agents stating that the ban also applies to Filipino crewmembers aboard ships trading to Nigeria. However, on 7 February 2008 the POEA revised its position and issued a further Advisory stating that the ban only concerns Filipino crewmembers serving on board vessels engaged in liner services to Nigerian ports.

The DOLE memorandum asserts that manning agencies found to be in breach of the directive may face criminal or civil action, although precise details of the applicable penalties are unknown at the present time. It is also unclear how the Philippines government will police or enforce the requirements.

This situation clearly places manning agencies in a difficult position and creates significant problems for shipowners operating liner services to Nigerian ports if their vessels are manned with Filipino crew. In particular, questions arise as to when and where such crewmembers would be replaced by seafarers of other nationalities and who would bear the cost of doing so.

It is understood that discussions with the POEA are ongoing. Pending further developments, Members with vessels engaged in liner services to Nigerian ports which are crewed with Filipino nationals are requested to contact the Managers for further advice.