The port of Puerto Princesa is among the three crew change hubs for seafarers across the country that became operational recently pursuant to the order given by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Art Tugade to establish more.

The other centers that became operational were in the ports of Zamboanga and Iloilo.

Zamboanga’s crew change center was activated on March 14, Iloilo on March 21, and Puerto Princesa on April 8, 2022, according to a DOTr press statement released Monday.

“It takes a whole maritime approach to make crew changes possible in the country. The various government agencies and the stakeholders that are involved remain firm in their strong and active participation to ensure the continuous operation of these crew change hubs, for our maritime industry champions: our Filipino seafarers,” Tugade said.

The Maritime Sector of the DOTr oversaw the opening of the new crew change hubs, which included the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the Office of Transportation Security (OTS), and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), as well as other government entities.

The DOTr stated that the Philippines now has nine active crew change hubs under the PPA, which include the Manila South Harbor, Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan, Sasa Wharf in Davao, and Batangas. Subic and Cebu are the other two crew change centers.

Recognizing the critical role of seafarers to the country’s economy, the country established crew change hubs to process the documentation required to ease the migration of both on-signers and off-signers during the global epidemic.

Crew change centers have been established across the country as part of the preparations taken to keep maritime operations running despite the rigorous health regulations in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crew change hubs are staffed by the following government agencies: the DOTr and its attached agencies: Office for Transportation Security, Cebu Port Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, the Department of Health, Bureau of Quarantine, the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, Department of Foreign Affairs, the Overseas Workers Welfare Organization, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Office of Civil Defense, and by the various provincial and local government units.

Tugade welcomed the activation of the new crew change hubs, stressing that the DOTr Maritime Sector and the other involved government agencies remain firm in their commitment to make crew changes as efficient as possible while upholding the health and safety of seafarers, especially Filipino mariners.