MANILA — Filipino sailors aboard foreign ocean-going vessels wired home a total of $3.4 billion in 2009, up $366 million or 12.06 percent from $3.034 billion in 2008, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reported over the weekend.
TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said Filipino sailors based in Europe remitted $1.156 billion last year, up $509.594 million or 78.82 percent from $646.406 million in 2008.
Herrera said the cash sent home by Filipino sailors based in Asia also increased $180.343 million or 55.07 percent year-on-year, to $507.801 million from $327.458 million.
The hefty increases outweighed the $325-million or 16 percent year-on-year drop in remittances from Filipino sailors based in America, to $1.706 billion from $2.031 billion, said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
TUCP’s revelation came shortly after the Philippine government bared a plan to sell $500 million of dollar- and euro-denominated bonds to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), to partly bridge the projected P293 billion budget deficit this year.
Last year’s 12.06 percent growth in remittances from sea-based OFWs was three times faster than the 4.15 percent or $555 million year-on-year increase in the cash sent home by land-based OFWs.
Aggregate remittances coursed through banks by all land- and sea-based OFWs increased $921-million or 5.61 percent, to $17.348 billion in 2009 from $16.427 billion in 2008, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Of the $921-million increase, land-based OFWs contributed 60 percent, while those at sea covered the rest.
Sailors now contribute 20 cents out of every dollar sent home by all OFWs, according to Herrera, whose labor center includes the Philippine Seafarers’ Union.
Herrera said remittances from Filipino sailors should continue to grow at a double-digit rate this year, especially once the American economy regains strength.
Last week, a group of 44 Filipino crewmembers ended their lockdown over unpaid wages aboard the bankrupt casino cruise ship Palm Beach Princess at Florida’s Riviera Beach City.
One out of four workers aboard international cruise ships is a Filipino.