Beginning January next year, all Filipino seafarers would undergo training to prepare them themselves against pirate abduction in the high seas, the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) announced on Thursday.

 “The training, which is not expected to last more than a day, is aligned with the module of the international Association of Independent Tanker Owners and will begin on Jan. 15,” POEA chief Jennifer Manalili said. According to Manalili, the module would be conducted outside the existing pre-departure orientation seminar so that it would be more “thorough and extensive”.

 “And this would not have additional cost for the seafarers. It will be shouldered by the manning agency, “said Manalili. Filipinos who take the module will be given a certification by the POEA and only the could they be deployed overseas. The labor department said piracy in Somalia, notably the Gulf of Aden, has come to an alarming proportion in recent months. There are 68 Filipinos seafarers still being held by pirates in Somalia and Nigeria. All of them remain locked up in six vessels while waiting for the results of negotiations between ship owners and the abductors. Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said  kidnapping has become an unfortunate reality for the 350,000 Filipino seafarers all over the world. Roque admitted that despite the safety measures they have set in place, they cannot do anything to halt Somali pirates from kidnapping in the high seas.