Since 2006 470 Filipinos have died at the hands of pirates. Anti piracy training will now be mandatory, a significant move says MUA's Paddy Crumlin.
Manila: The Philippines has ordered its seafarers - a third of the world's commercial sailors, to go through anti-piracy training before they will be allowed to board ships.
The Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said on Monday that the training of about eight hours, will be mandatory starting Jan 15. The measure is a response to a wave of ship hijackings, which remain a serious problem a year after an international naval armada began operating off Somalia to protect shipping lanes.
"It's a sign of the times and backs up the Advisory Guidelines out government has just made available to our crews to prepare them for voyages through pirate infested waters. Training is essential if we are to tackle this problem head on and this is great news for Filipino seafarers", said Paddy Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary.
"The figure is hard to believe but Somali pirates have killed 470 Phillipinos since 2006 so this preparation can't come soon enough", said Crumlin.
Associated Press reported that sailors will be taught how to use fire hoses and manoeuvre their vessels to prevent pirates boarding them. They will also learn how to manage hostage crises if they are taken captive.
Recruiting agencies will conduct the training and issue a certificate required by the government prior to a seafarer's departure.
The program is based on one used by the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, which operates about 80 percent of the world's tankers.
The course will teach sailors how to detect approaching pirates and who to communicate with in case of an attack, he said. The guidelines include telling sailors to go full speed ahead in case the crew detects small vessels nearby, and to avoid sailing near coastlines.