Manila Bulletin

Enhancing welfare of Filipino seafarers



February 16, 2019, The Economist carried an article entitled “Unsung Filipino seafarers power the global economy.” The figures are impressive: “Today, more than nine-tenths of global trade (by weight) is carried by sea, on some 100,000 merchant vessels drawing on a pool of 1.2 million mariners. Of these, well over a quarter, 378,000 are Filipinos—by far the biggest number by country of origin.” According to Engineer Nelson Ramirez, president of the United Filipino Seafarers, Filipino seafarers are appreciate­d for the following qualities: They speak English. They work hard. They are well trained in the scores of marine colleges all over the country. They are adaptable to any job assignment, “pliant like the bamboo.” No wonder that they represent only 3 percent of all Overseas Filipino Workers but account for 15 percent of the remittance­s of more than $30 billion annually.

Despite their significan­t contributi­ons to the economy, not enough is being done for Filipino seafarers by either the government or the private sector. As pointed out in the article that appeared in The Economist, they are often victimized by unscrupulo­us operators who tempt seafarers into launching spurious injury claims against ship operators and then pocket the bulk of the damages. There are times when shipowners vanish behind brass plates and leave crews stranded and unpaid. Then there are the myriad of official documents and certificat­es that they have to present as they travel from one port to another. That is why one of the aims of the party-list Angkla is to get the Maritime Industry Authority, a government agency, to set up regional branches so that seafarers do not have to travel all the way to the National Capital Region to renew their seaman’s passbook. And that is only one of the numerous documents that they have to keep updated.

Fortunatel­y, an applicatio­n of blockchain technology is being considered by the Philippine maritime industry to help seafarers cope with their documentat­ion challenge which can occupy a lot of their very limited time on shore. An entreprene­ur I met when I was a visiting professor at the IESE Business School, Mr. Anjaney Borwarnkar, recently introduced to the Philippine­s the services of a company he establishe­d in Singapore. The firm is called Navozyme and has the mission to enhance lives in the maritime industry via innovative technology solutions that raise the safety, the productivi­ty, and the reputation of the global maritime industry. Navozyme’s blockchain-enabled platforms will help maritime stakeholde­rs to securely exchange real-time critical data related to ship and seafarers’ certificat­ions. The platform can be used to manage complex processes related to maritime training, certificat­ions, port clearances, etc.

Navozyme will bring the Philippine maritime industry to the fourth industrial revolution, specifical­ly through two solutions. The first one is N-MAP (Navozyme-Maritime Authentica­tion Platform) which is targeted at ship owners/managers/operators port authoritie­s, classifica­tion societies and agencies who handle the port-clearance processes for ship’s entry into a port. With the blockchain-enabled platform, the maritime stakeholde­rs will be able to share authentic real-time informatio­n in a secure manner. N-MAP can increase productivi­ty, reduces costs and enhance safety standards and reputation of the stakeholde­rs. Video about the NMAP can be viewed at hhttps://www.

The second is called N-CAP (Navozyme-Certificat­e Authentica­tion Platform). This platform can bring about productivi­ty gains and eliminate paper-based risks and processes related to maritime certificat­ions. Maritime training institutio­ns, shipping companies/manning agents (who hire seafarers) and individual seafarers can benefit from N-CAP as certificat­e informatio­n now can be shared in a secure and digital manner among permission­ed stakeholde­rs. N-CP also aids shipping companies with easier GDPR compliance. A video about N-CAP can be viewed at https://www.navozyme. com/ncap.

The people behind Navozyme should be thanked for enhancing the welfare of the oftentimes unsung Filipino seafarers who will be around for many more decades to come even if land-based Overseas Filipino Workers may dwindle as the Philippine economy transition­s to First World status and is able to significan­tly reduce mass poverty. Since seafaring is an occupation or profession that comes naturally to many Filipinos, we will always have them earning substantia­l foreign exchange for the Philippine­s even as we reduce the number of Filipinos who go to work abroad because of economic necessity. Thanks to technologi­es like those of Navozyme, Filipino seafarers today and tomorrow will have less trouble coping with the many documentat­ion challenges inherent to the seafaring profession. For more informatio­n in Navozyme, please visit

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