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Filipino seafarers face discrimination, anxiety amid Covid-19 pandemic

As travel and labor on land slowed down due to measures imposed by governmment to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), seafarers of the shipping industry are still hard at work transporting goods to different ports around the world.

Filipino seafarers are forced to toughen up as they face discrimination and fear caused by the invisible enemy.

Dick Andro Ferrolino, a Cebuano, shared to SunStar Cebu that he had experienced first hand being treated “badly” when their vessel docked at a port in New Zealand.

He narrated that some crane operators “seemed to be avoiding” him and his other companions.

“Di sila moduol namo or ila mi papahawaon kon moagi sila (they are afraid to come near us or they ask us to go away if they wish to pass),” Ferrolino recalled.

“They think we carry the virus. Somehow, it felt like we were being discriminated against,” he added.

The changing of crew members onboard have also been temporarily postponed due to government measures amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Ferrolino was supposed to finish his contract in April but due to the ECQ, there is no assurance when they can go home.

The same thing happened to Jay Cana, a cargo vessel cook, whose contract was supposed to end in April. He is currently in China.

“Stress doesn’t just describe it for us who should be signing off this month. It’s like prolonging the agony of defeat,” Cana said.

Since the novel coronavirus became a pandemic, Cana said their cargo handling and deliveries became an arduous task, especially deliveries to and from affected areas.

He emphasized that his company and everyone in their vessel have very rigid protocols to follow.

As the numbers of mortality and confirmed cases of the Covid-19 continue to rise, news always worry the seafarers who barely even have contacts with their families, especially when internet is not available in the port.

Ruben Garces, who is from Cebu City and is currently in China, said it worries him that he is not with his family in this time of pandemic.

“With the crisis that’s happening right now, especially in the Philippines, first of all, I am worried for my family because in times like this, I should be with them but I can’t do anything because this is my line of work,” said Garces.

Ferrolino, Cana and Garces are among the 400,000 Filipino seafarers who wish to be with their families but chose to continue working at sea to ensure goods are being delivered from one port to another.
Source: The Sun Star

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