Senator Chiz Escudero is urging authorities to ease the burden of Filipino seafarers by relaxing regulatory requirements for their deployment abroad even as he praised the so-called “sailing ambassadors” of the country for their hard work and sacrifices.

“We should encourage and make it easier for our seafarers and not give them a difficult time,” Escudero said on the occasion of the “Day of the Seafarer” on June 25.

The senator said he had been receiving a number of complaints about the red tape in the processing of seafarers’ documentation, including licenses and training requirements.

“There is a need to rationalize the process and make them consistent, reasonable and understandable,” he pointed out.

Escudero also called for an easing of regulatory requirements for ships operating under the Philippine flag.

“Moreover, we are an archipelago. We should strive to be the shipping capital by making it easier for ships to register here and carry our flag especially given that we are number one in terms of the number of seafarers,” Escudero said.

“With that, we can protect Filipino seafarers more,” he added.

Every year on June 25, the International Maritime Organization pays homage to the millions of seafarers around the world, most of them coming from the Philippines.

The Philippines provides more seafarers to the global market than any country in the world, accounting for more than 25 percent of the world’s mariners.

“There are over 400,000 Filipino seafarers out there in the dangerous high seas. Today, we recognize their sacrifices to improve the lives of their families. They also have significantly contributed in making the Philippine economy more vibrant,” Escudero said.

He extolled the seafarers, who are among the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), as “modern day heroes” as they not only keep the local economy afloat but also serve as the country’s sailing ambassadors.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas figures have noted the Filipino seafarers remitted an estimated $5.6 billion in cash in 2014. This amount is about one-fifth of the estimated $26.9 billion OFW remittances last year.

Escudero rallied the nation, including the families of Filipino seafarers, to pray for them and their safety.

“I also call on the families of the Filipino seafarers to pause and remember them today fervently, together with their international colleagues. May all seafarers be always safe wherever they may be,” Escudero said.