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ANGARA: PHL NEEDS MAGNA CARTA OF FILIPINO SEAFARERS

Press Release - 16 Sep 2012

“The government must endeavor to improve the Filipino seafarers’ working conditions, terms of employment, career prospects and provide them opportunities to harness their potential to the fullest.” -Rep. Edgardo "Sonny" Angara

Following the recent ratification of the international seafarers’ bill of rights, Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara pushed for the immediate passage of the Magna Carta of the Filipino Seafarers, a measure for the comprehensive protection of sea-based Filipino workers.

Angara filed House Bill No. 566 or the “Act Instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers” which aims to adopt all laws, rules and regulations of the international seafarers’ bill of rights, otherwise known as the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 (MLC).

“Special laws must be explicitly crafted for the benefit of our seafarers as their circumstances are unique from land-based workers and the rest of the labor force,” Angara pointed out.

He lamented that existing labor laws and social legislation, including the Overseas Filipinos and Migrant Workers’ Act, are insufficient to address the fundamental needs of Filipino seafarers.

Last month, the Philippines officially became the 30th member-state of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to ratify MLC 2006 which provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for all the seafarers in the world.

According to the ILO, the convention consolidates and updates more than 68 international labor standards related to the maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years.

With the Philippine ratification of the MLC 2006, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will immediately call stakeholders to finalize regulations and propose legislation, such as Angara’s bill, to fulfill the promise of seafarers’ protection and competitiveness.

"Many of our seafarers are employed by countries that have ratified MLC 2006. By joining these ranks and enacting the counterpart legislation, we send out a very clear signal to the rest of the world that we are serious in taking care of our seafarers and ensuring their competitiveness," explained Angara. 

The Aurora representative authored the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers even prior the ratification of MLC 2006 in recognition of the huge economic contribution of sea-based Filipino workers.

In 2011, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that remittances of Filipino seafarers reached $4.2 billion.

Moreover, figures from DOLE showed that Filipino seafarers account for 350,000 of the total 1.2 million mariners around the world. 

Aside from adopting international conventions and standards on seafarers’ welfare, HB 566 seeks to ensure Filipino seafarers’ right to educational advancement and training, access to an efficient system for recruitment and employment, right to humane conditions of work and right to just compensation.

It further provides seafarers rights to self-organization, legal representation, repatriation, communication, consultation and speedy processing of all documents and claims. They shall also have the right against discrimination and against being charged or treated as criminal suspect in accident and pollution cases.

“The government must endeavor to improve the Filipino seafarers’ working conditions, terms of employment, career prospects and provide them opportunities to harness their potential to the fullest. We must recognize the rights, contributions and unique role of Filipino seafarers, as well as their vulnerabilities, and afford them full protection,” Angara concluded. (30)

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