IMEC CEO Speaks Out over Ambulance Chasing Lawyers

29 Nov 2021

 

On the 26th November, IMEC’s CEO Mr. Francesco Gargiulo, voiced his growing concern over the ambulance chasing situation in the Philippines, during a Marino World webinar, entitled “The Philippine Maritime Situationer”.

 

Mr. Gargiulo reported that IMEC recognised the Philippines as key supplier of seafarers.  The country remained the number one source of manpower throughout its Membership and, over the past few years, the organisation had invested over $50 million into the training infrastructure within the country.  However, he added that the Philippines did have competition in the global supply of seafarers and these competitors were taking advantage of some of the issues that the Philippines were facing.

 

Mr. Gargiulo felt that ambulance chasing lawyers were one of the major factors in Members deciding to explore alternative manpower sources, particularly when the closing down of the Philippines due to the pandemic had forced them to “temporarily” look elsewhere. Many of those temporary arrangements were now proving less problematic than a return to the old source and this was a warning the Philippines should heed. He made reference to the IMEC 2021 review which showed a small decline in the share of global supply for Filipino Ratings in favour of Indian Ratings since 2015 and the Indian sub-continent having overtaken the Philippines as the number one supplier of Officers in 2017, with a steadily growing gap over the past four years.  He also made reference to IMEC’s cadet training programmes.  IMEC has a well established cadets programme in the Philippines with over one thousand cadets currently under training, but more Members had come forward as sponsors over the organisation’s new cadet training programme in the Ukraine than those involved in the Philippines despite the initiative in Eastern Europe being a pilot programme only.  He felt that these were massive signals that IMEC Members’ confidence in the Philippines was reducing.

 

Responding to the Administrator of MARINA VAdm Robert Argugay Empedrad’s industry update, he welcomed the initiative to cancel the Seaman’s Books of those who have been declared as permanently disabled (but continued to work as seafarers), but questioned the effectiveness of seafarer ambulance chasing awareness campaigns as a standalone approach.  He supported the concept of recognising escrow as a mode of executing the judgement awards in the country and encouraged the Philippines government to give this bill the consideration it desperately needs, he saw this as the key to addressing the situation.  He advised that although the Philippines was the number one source of seafarers today, it would need to address this issue, should it wish to retain it’s position in ten years’ time.

 

Mr. Gargiulo concluded by congratulating the government on the movement of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic.  He report that after a slow start, the Philippines government was one of the few who listened to the industry, which resulted in the country becoming a hub for crew changes, for seafarers of all nationalities.

 

IMEC’s 2021 review can be found at: http://www.imec.org.uk/imecreview2021/

Hilary Ho