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On Filipino Seafarers

Filipino seamen can get sick during the course of their work. They could acquire hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) from operating chipping machines, needle guns, and hand held grinders. They could develop cardiovascular diseases (CVD) from multitasking. They could suffer musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) from working nonstop, or they could have cancer from exposing themselves to beryllium, cadmium, lead, and other toxic substances.

Filipino seamen could also be infected with a sexually transmitted disease for unsafe sexual activities; pandemic and epidemic diseases for visiting ports currently plagued with malaria, cholera, yellow fever, and tuberculosis, among others; or hypertension for excessive stress, fatigue, loneliness, smoking, alcoholic consumption, and lack of physical activity.

The National Conciliation and Meditation Board (NCMB) could help Filipino seafarers be compensated, though. Former bosun Alexander Billones, for one, had figured in an accident when he was hired by the KGJS Fleet Management Manila, Inc. resulting in chronic degenerative disc. He was then repatriated amidst pain in his lower back, hips, and legs. He was just assisted by lawyer Christopher Rey Valmores and conciliator-mediator Gil Caragayan in claiming P3,206,250 for settlement.

Another case is Nestor Balbaboco Jr.’s. He was employed by the North Sea Marine Service Corporation but suffered a spinal injury while on board the M/V Albatross. He was awarded P2,215,720 through NCMB-NCR Chief Leo Ma. Delia Yu’s facilitation.

One more example is Joel Florande. He was sent by the Sea Power Shipping, Inc. to M/V Efstathios where he had a mild stroke. Valmores assisted him to receive P3,636,699 settlement from the Sea Power Shipping Enterprises.

Filipino seafarers are governed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Standard Employment Contract that intends to compensate a “work-related” illness, injury or death. Someone who died of cerebrovascular disease (stroke) 17 days after a contract’s end was not compensable. Another who had been on board for only one month cannot be benefited, too. Only a widower whose seafarer husband died due to colon cancer while on board could be entitled to the benefits that her deceased husband had signed.

“An Act Protecting Seafarers Against Ambulance Chasing and Imposition of Excessive Fees and Providing Penalties Therefor” was also enacted into law to prohibit a person from soliciting an amount in exchange of a legal service to seafarers. It is simply called the Seafarers Protection Act that lowers legal fees from 40%-50% to 10% only. Hopefully, these two regulations would be modified as necessary to protect those who make up more than one-third of all ship workers in the world.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Harvey Cureg

Notes The global shipping industry, which carries 80 percent of international trade, employs about 1.2 million seafarers, the bulk of whom come from the Philippines. (Source: GMA News Online)

In the Face of Calamities

Children with disabilities in the Philippines—there are 5.1 million of them to date—are the most vulnerable if there happen to be a calamity or an emergency in the country. They wouldn’t be able to flee; around 1.5 million need assistive devices. They wouldn’t be able to go back to school immediately and they wouldn’t be able to subsist in the sanitation conditions in evacuation centers.1

So, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction of the Department of Science and Technology, proposed to carry out continuing education and preparation on disaster management in all levels especially those in the most vulnerable groups. He encouraged developing “disaster imagination” to bring about people’s resolve to prepare for any disaster and “disaster preparedness” as a way a life for every Filipino.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council–Office of Civil Defense also endorsed “Lahat Handa,” a training manual that promotes the rights and capacities of children, youth, older people and PWDS.

The ramifications of a typhoon, flood, or fire may linger, said Alex Ghenis of the Berkeley, California-based World Institute on Disability. These may disrupt access to caregivers, assistive devices and medical supplies. A person with a mobility impairment might be less able to escape a storm on their own while a person with a visual or hearing impairment might not receive appropriate evacuation notices. PWDs, therefore, even they have mostly been ignored in scientific literature and policy, will be the most vulnerable during calamities because of falling buildings and environmental pollution.

Good thing, someone has thought of sign language gestures for words like typhoon, storm surge and signal numbers in 2013. Some waterside villages in Tacloban have also planned to raise flags and made announcements over megaphones to alert the deaf and the visually impaired, respectively.

The PWD Forum also hopes that closed captioning will be added to television broadcasts soon. For, as of now, research director Perpi Tiongson of the Oscar M. Lopez Center in Manila has observed that the standard version of Filipino sign language isn’t required to be taught at schools for the deaf yet.

“Some of the children with disabilities wouldn’t be able to duck, cover and hold under tables, so they should identify the safest area in the room, where no debris would fall on them. If they use wheelchairs, they should fix it to ensure stability, and everyone should be informed of their buildings’ respective evacuation routes. They should also pinpoint the safe parts of a building in case of an earthquake.” ~ Dr. Renato Solidum Jr.

1This was noted by Lotta Sylwander, country representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), during the “Emergency Preparedness Forum for Children and Youth with Disabilities.”

2Typhoons could form if the temperature is above 280C (82.40F).

3The figure was from a report of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Notes:

  • Among of the natural disasters that had happened in the Philippines are the Bohol earthquake, (October 15, 2013), Typhoon Bopha (December 3, 2012), Pantukan landslide (January 5, 2012), Tropical Storm Washi (December 2011), Typhoon Fengshen (June 20-23, 2008), Tropical Cyclone Durian (November 25, 2006), Guinsaugon landslide (February 17, 2006), and Tropical Depression Winnie (November 2004).
  • The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas headed by Melissa Banias of the Capability Building Section has trained more or less 700 individuals from the 14 vulnerable or basic sectors that were identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) on the Philippine DRRM system, different kinds of natural and human-induced hazards, and DRRM applications. They are composed of volunteer groups, persons with disability, farmers, fisherfolk, rebel returnees, and Indigenous Peoples (IP), among others.
  • The Philippines is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, landslides, storms, cyclones, and depressions simply because it is located just above the equator, where the country faces the western Pacific waters with 280C (82.40F) temperature2. Its hillsides are denuded of forests and it rests on the so-called volcano Ring of Fire.

A lot of Filipinos live on coastal islands, too. The Super Typhoon Haiyan reached 23 feet (7 meters) upon its surge. It rolled over the low-lying parts of Leyte, causing death to more than 10,000 people3.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Edison Jared

UPDATE (October 2, 2018): On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost every year in the Philippines, with typhoons accounting for 74 percent of the fatalities, 62 percent of the total damages, and 70 percent of agricultural damages, according to the World Bank.

Source: GMA News Online