Labor Attache Saul de Vries discusses a collaborative plan of action on how the Migrant Workers Office in Washington, D.C. and Philippine manning agencies can together tackle the incidents related to the circulation of child pornography among seafarers arrested in the United States.

17 May 2024
Embassy Press and Information Section

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Migrant Workers Office of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. met with representatives of various Philippine manning agencies deploying seafarers to cruise ships on May 15, 2024 to discuss incidents of arrests and detention of seafarers in the United States, particularly on child pornography activities, and how to further strengthen the campaign in combating online child sexual exploitation. 

The meeting apprised the manning agencies about the situation of seafarers and discussed a plan of action to increase awareness against child pornography and prevent any form of child exploitation by our seafarers.

Labor Attaché Saul De Vries said that incidents of arrests and detention are highly preventable. “The Philippines is a strong advocate against online sexual exploitation of children. Our seafarers must be informed about the perils of child pornography, which is considered one of the worst forms of child exploitation and to consume it perpetuates such exploitation…US federal and state laws criminalize the production or promotion of child pornography. Individuals caught possessing, viewing, transporting and distributing child pornography will be prosecuted and penalized,” he said. 

He urged the manning agencies to enjoin their seafarers to desist from downloading, possessing, viewing, transporting, distributing, and selling child pornography, as well as subscribing to child pornography sites. They should be reminded of their duty to conduct themselves in the most professional, responsible and ethical manner.

De Vries added  “the world highly values and appreciates our seafarers. They remain to be the most-sought ship crew in the world because of their work dedication, excellent skills and dependability. We do not want the careers they worked hard to build and the sacrifices they endured for their families to go to waste because of an infraction with the law. Those involved in cases are just a few and certainly do not represent the character of the Filipino mariner.”  

The manning agencies agreed to strengthen their pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) for seafarers by incorporating modules dealing with issues of child pornography and related subjects. They were also reminded of the principle of presumption of innocence as they were asked to help provide legal aid to their accused seafarers to ensure their rights are protected during an investigation.

In the past six months, at least seven (7) Filipino cruise ship seafarers are reported to have been arrested and detained in Florida, United States due to possession and transportation of child pornography.

Officials of the Department of Migrant Workers led by Director Augusto San Diego III of the Sea-Based Accreditation Bureau also attended the meeting. Manning agencies that joined the discussion include Magsaysay People Resources Corporation, CF Sharp Crew Management, Inc., Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc., TDG Crew Management, Inc., United Philippine Lines, Inc., RCCL Crew Management Inc., OSM Shipping Phils., OSM Thome and YWCA Founder’s Federation of the Philippines, Inc. ###

17 May 2024

MWO Officials with the representatives of various Philippine manning agencies deploying seafarers to cruise ships.