The first network of HIV-positive seafarers in the Philippines, called Positibong Marino Philippines (PMP), has been launched with the support of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), its union AMOSUP and the Joint Manning Group (JMG). PMP is a self-help and support group that eyes to “defend the rights of HIV-positive seafarers who find it difficult to get employment because of their health status.”
In the Philippines, the treatment of HIV-positive seafarers is somewhat convoluted.
From the get-go, violation of the human rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV) happens during application. While the existing law (Republic Act 8504) mandates that HIV testing is to be done voluntarily, mandatory testing still happens to comply with the laws of other countries where the seafarers may be assigned, with these countries still having outdated policies that ban PLHIVs.
There are also reported instances when a seafarer is infected with HIV while working overseas, and whose employment is then terminated before he/she is forcibly sent back to the Philippines.
Unfortunately, the lack of HIV-related services specific for those in the maritime industry remains noticeable, with violations against seafarers who test HIV-positive including: involuntary HIV testing, disclosure of HIV status sans consent, non-hiring due to HIV status, and – as earlier noted – termination of employment upon discovery of HIV positive status.
In an earlier interview, Jebsen Gamido, the HIV positive chairperson of PMP, was quoted as saying that because he knew firsthand the “many challenges to getting employment on board (a) ship”, he is now “committed to build this network of HIV positive seafarers in the Philippines to provide mental and legal support to all HIV-positive seafarers, irrespective of their nationality.”
PMP now intends to “challenge the stigma and discrimination around HIV/AIDS and fight for our rights, especially in the Philippines, where employment discrimination based on HIV status is prohibited by law.”
PMP has an office in AMOSUP’s Manila office.
For more information on PMP, visit @Positibong.MarinoPhil.