POEA Revise Position on Nigeria

February 2008

PDF Version

There has been much concern over the move by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to ban all Filipino seafarers entering Nigerian ports. A recent clarification from the POEA explains that the ban relates only to seafarers on board vessels on liner service calling on Nigerian ports. The background to the ban is as follows:

On 31 January 2008, pursuant to a Department of Labor and Employment memorandum, the POEA clarified that a ban applied to Filipino crew on board ships entering Nigerian ports and further directed the manning agencies to inform their principals that Filipino seafarers are not allowed to enter any port in Nigeria to ensure their safety and security (POEA Advisory No. 3, Series of 2008, undated). 

On 5 February 2008 the Filipino Association of Mariners Employment requested clarification on the following: 

    1. Will manning agencies that have no control over the trade of the vessel be subject to sanctions?
    2. Will seafarers who refuse to sail have a valid ground to pre-terminate their contract and demand repatriation?
    3. Will manning agencies who inform their principals of the ban be considered in compliance with the POEA advisory?

On 7 February 2008 the POEA “clarified that the ban on the entry of Filipino seafarers to Nigeria shall cover only seafarers on board vessels on liner service calling on Nigerian ports” (POEA Advisory No. 5, Series of 2008, undated).

At a POEA Governing Board meeting on 18 February it was stated that  the deployment ban will no longer cover Filipino seafarers onboard liner vessels but will cover only seafarers onboard vessels engaged in “cabotage” or so-called coastwise shipping sailing exclusively between ports on the Nigerian coast. Therefore vessels engaged on the spot market (tramping) and those on fixed schedules (liner service) are not affected. The POEA will not be issuing a new Advisory regarding this latest development on the deployment ban. 

Following the issue of POEA Advisory No.5, referred to above, Del Rosario & Del Rosario contacted the POEA for further clarification and were told the following:

1. Manning agents will be held liable for engaging a Filipino national onboard a vessel engaged on a liner service with scheduled calls at Nigerian ports.

2. Mere engagement of Filipino seafarers for the purpose of deploying them onboard a liner vessel with scheduled calls at Nigerian ports will, of itself, constitute a violation of the Advisory, whether or not the vessel actually calls at a Nigerian port.

3. The POEA advised that it is implicit that the Advisory has retroactive application because even if  a Filipino seafarer was already onboard a liner vessel calling at Nigerian ports prior to the issuance of the Advisory, the manning agents are still obliged to prevent these seafarers from entering Nigerian ports. However, who will shoulder the costs of repatriation is still an unsettled issue.

4. POEA Deputy Adminitrator Viveca Catalig advised that the sanction that will be imposed shall be in the form of a suspension of the manning agent's license, not cancellation of license.

Although this clarification preceded the meeting of 18 February it is assumed that the references to liner service in points 1 to 4 above should now be read as cabotage/coastwise shipping.   

With thanks to  Del Rosario & Del Rosario for supplying this information.

(Article last updated 19 February 2008)