By Betheena Unite
Filipino seafarers will have to endure staying on their vessels and not seeing their families when they reach their home ports as the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) banned them from doing so amid the novel coronavirus (nCoV) threat.
Crewmen of vessels from China had been prohibited from disembarking from ships while docked at any PPA-controlled ports in the country in a bid to prevent the possible spread of the contagious disease.
All visiting privileges given to relatives of Filipino seafarers and non-government organizations extending emotional and spiritual help to seafarers were also canceled.
PPA issued the decision Monday to mariners and vessels, including all port stakeholders, in order to protect Philippine borders from further contamination by nCoV.
“Not only the passengers coming from Chinese territories should be barred from disembarking, but we should also disallow vessel crews which recently called in any China port,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said.
“It is also a practice in the country that relatives of Filipino seafarers are allowed visitation rights, as well as several institutions giving moral, spiritual, and emotional support to anxious seafarers; this too is temporarily suspended.”
A special team will be deployed to monitor the movements of personnel and people inside the port. All concerned agencies were also encouraged to issue parallel directives within their jurisdiction.
“We recognize the dilemma of our seafarers and the difficulty that they face while at sea, but we also have to guarantee the safety of those offshore. Rest assured that everything will be reinstated when this nCoV scare is over,” Santiago said.
“Right now, we just have to work together to protect one another and deeper understanding of the situation is expected from all of us.”
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, on the other hand, said they will meet with the PPA to discuss boarding protocols “to harmonize efforts.”