On July 31, 2009, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with President Gloria Arroyo of the Republic of the Philippines and signed the first joint nonbinding Memorandum of Cooperation between the two nations to address the piracy issue. It is estimated that pirates have carried out more than 82 attacks this year, just in the waters of the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast; more than 199 seafarers are currently being held captive.
Piracy threatens the health and safety of all seafarers and disrupts the free flow of maritime commerce in major commercial corridors.
The problem deeply concerns both nations, since many U.S. vessels have been threatened by these activities, and the Philippines is the world’s largest supplier of seafaring labor. Working together, the two nations can improve counter-piracy training and education.
The agreement calls upon both nations to develop best practices to enhance vessel security, conduct drills to ensure seafarers are prepared to respond to acts of piracy, and share information. The two nations will also examine ways to strengthen legislation and regulations to address this problem.