By Marita Moaje

Department of Migrant Workers (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is pushing for the designation of the Strait of Hormuz as a “high-risk area” (HRA) to encourage enforcement of stricter safety measures for seafarers passing the route.

DMW officer in charge Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said that identifying an area as HRA assures Filipino seafarers of their “right to refuse” sailing.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of our Filipino seafarers is not just a priority, it’s our mission,” Cacdac said in a news release Tuesday.

He said representations would be made to the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), which brings together the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the international maritime employers that comprise the Joint Negotiation Group.

The decision, Cacdac said, stems from the recent seizure by Iranian authorities of the Israel-linked container ship MSC Aries, and the detention of its 25 crewmembers that include four Filipinos, while traversing the Strait of Hormuz.

According to the DMW, designating a high-risk area entails increased vigilance and security patrols, mandatory reporting requirements for vessels transiting the area, and recommendations for alternative routes.

In February, the IBF announced the classification of the Gulf of Aden as an HRA.

In late March, the IBF declared the southern portion of the Red Sea and the entire Gulf of Aden as “war-like zones” after the DMW and the Philippines’ Maritime Industry Tripartite Council, recommended the classification.

On March 27, the DMW provided guidelines for observing the designation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden as high-risk areas and war-like zones.

“The DMW is committed to working with various stakeholders in the global maritime industry to achieve this crucial designation of the Strait of Hormuz as an HRA. We believe that only through collective efforts can we ensure the safety of our seafarers,” Cacdac said. (PNA)