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25/10/2011: US Maritime Administration Successfully Concludes Pilot Training Course on Maritime Anti-Piracy with Philippine Trainees

(L-R) Maritime Administrator David Matsuda, Capt. Pancracio Alfonso, US DoT Secretary Ray LaHood, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Capt. Abelardo Pacheco, and MIDN 1CL Joseph Navasero.

Ambassador Cuisia conveyed the Philippine Government statement on maritime anti-piracy stating that “the US-PH Memorandum of Cooperation on Counter-Piracy Training and Education further strengthens the Philippine Government’s resolve and enhances its efforts to address piracy which presents a clear and present danger to the maritime and shipping industry.” (L-R) Ambassador Cuisia, Secretary Ray LaHood, Maritime Administrator David Matsuda, Director Douglas Stevenson of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights, and Program Manager Roy Paul of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

After the debriefing session with Ambassador Jose L. Cusia, Jr. (L-R): Labor Attaché Luzviminda Padilla, Economic Officer Angelito Nayan, US MARAD Executive Assistant Terrence Bogans. Capt. Abelardo Pacheco, Ambassador Cuisia, Capt. Pancracio Alfonso (Ret.), US MARAD Director Greg Hall, and MIDN 1CL Joseph Navasero.

25 OCTOBER 2011, WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Department of Transportation-Maritime Administration (US MARAD), led by Maritime Administrator David Matsuda, successfully concluded last October 21 the one-week pilot training course on maritime anti-piracy.  In attendance from the Philippines were Capt. Abelardo Pacheco, Capt. Pancracio Alfonso(Ret.) of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) and Cadet Joseph Navasero also of MAAP.  The course was held in Washington, D.C., Marine Merchant Academy in King’s Point, New York, and Seafarers’ International Union in Piney Point, Maryland.

“This important first step in implementing the Memorandum of Cooperation on Maritime Counter-Piracy Training and Education forms part of the strategic bilateral initiative aimed at developing an efficient and safe maritime transport industry,” Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia said during the roundtable on “Safeguarding our Seafarers from Piracy” held at the US DoT on 20 October.

Ambassador Cuisia further stressed that the Philippines is one with the global maritime community in condemning the atrocities of the sea pirates and their senseless disregard for human lives and properties.

Secretary Ray LaHood, in turn, underscored that the purpose of the one-week pilot training course is “to build relationships, share ideas and experiences, and take action against the growing threat of piracy.” He commended Ambassador Cuisia and the Philippine Government for the “leadership in confronting piracy on the high seas.”  Secretary LaHood also gave a plaque of recognition to Capt. Abelardo Pacheco (captain of the MT “”Stolt Strength” which was captured by Somali pirates from 10 November 2008-21 April 2009) for his “tireless work against piracy.”

US Maritime Administrator David Matsuda said that the pilot exchange “is just one of the ways the Maritime Administration is working to address the piracy issue.” He also conveyed the key message during the roundtable that “as much as piracy is an economic issue, our first focus must always be on the people and families it affects…we need to ensure that each and every one of our maritime professionals has the tools and training they need to handle emergency situations.”

Based on the pilot training course and on the roundtable organized by the US MARAD, a draft resolution will be circulated to all maritime industry stakeholders to establish, among others, a mechanism through which governments, seafarer training institutions, industry, and international organizations can pursue cooperative efforts to emphasize the importance of promoting a healthy maritime sector and its contribution to strengthening trade relations as well as addressing the urgency to understand the cultural, political and criminal aspects of piracy.

A cross-training program will be conducted in the Philippines sometime in 2012 in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment-Maritime Training Council (DOLE-MTC). END.