By William Casis i FilAm Star Correspondent

Filipino sailors onboard foreign ocean-going vessels sent home a record $6.14 billion through the banking system in 2018, the biggest bulk coming from the United States, said ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III.

By country of origin, Bertiz said the top sources of cash transfers from Filipino sailors last year was the United States at $2.31 billion.

Photo: Rep. John Bertiz III (Youtube Screen cap)

He said the United States was followed by Singapore, $563.85 million; Germany, $560.98 million; Japan, $435.82 million; the United Kingdom, $331.23 million; Hong Kong, $275.53 million; the Netherlands, $259.12 million; Greece, $174.98 million; Panama, $163.62 million; Cyprus, $125.19 million; and Norway, $115.98 million.

Bertiz said the increase in the sailors’ remittance last year was up 4.6 percent or $270 million from $5.87 billion in 2017.

He said the amount does not include money remitted via non-bank channels as well as cash physically brought home by sailors on vacations.

“We see the demand for Filipino sailors rising steadily in tandem with international merchant ship traffic, as economies around the world continue to expand,” Bertiz said.

The International Monetary Fund earlier said it expects the global economy to grow at 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020.

Filipino sailors serve on bulk carriers, container ships, oil, gas, chemical and other load-bearing tankers, general cargo ships, pure car carriers and tugboats around the world.

Many Filipinos also provide housekeeping, guest relations, culinary, front office and other maintenance services on cruise ships and floating casinos.

Meanwhile, ACTS-OFW wants the government to invest more funds in providing free maritime education through state universities and colleges.

“Maritime education for the youth offers as a way for poor families to move into the middle class,” Bertiz said.

“Thus, we intend to push a special higher education fund that will encourage SUCs, especially those in the provinces, to either put up new maritime institutes or expand their existing marine programs,” he added.

Graduates of Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and the Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering, once licensed and certified, become officers on foreign ships – masters, chief mates, officers-in-charge of a navigational watch, chief engineers, second engineers and officers-in-charge of engineering watch.

Bertiz also cited the need for SUCs to help produce a greater number of master’s degree holders in marine education to ensure that maritime schools would have highly qualified instructors in the years ahead.