Press Release
June 2, 2015


Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the immediate passage of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, which seeks to guarantee fundamental rights, benefits and comprehensive protection for the thousands of sea-based Filipino workers worldwide.

"Filipino seafarers willingly enter their profession fully aware of the dangers nature can pose. But when the hardships they face arise from the acts of men, and not the acts of God, there must be widespread action to assure their security and safety, as well as to ensure that their rights as laborers-in-the-sea are protected," said Angara, sponsor and one of the authors of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, in his sponsorship speech on Monday.

The Philippines has been the world's top supplier of seafarers since 1987, accounting for some 400,000 or a fourth of the 1.5 million seafarers worldwide.

The latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report showed that remittances by sea-based workers totaled to US$5.5 billion last year.

The acting labor committee chairman cited reports early this year that 21 Filipino seafarers--who were said to be onboard Bulk Brasil, a Panamanian-registered vessel docked at Port Kembla in New South Wales--were stranded without food and with unpaid salaries for four months.

Meanwhile, a report by international seafarers' rights watchdog ITF Seafarers showed that 70 percent of Filipino seafarers had been denied shore leave, with little opportunity to call their families.

"Seafarers are undoubtedly among the most exploited and abused workers in the world. The Magna Carta seeks to protect Filipino seafarers especially when their rights are threatened," Angara stressed.

Among the salient provisions of the bill include the seafarers' right to just compensation and work under humane conditions, right to education and training, right to self-organization and collective bargaining, right to repatriation, right against discrimination, exploitation and any kind of physical harm, sexual harassment or slavery among Filipino seafarers' rights.

The Magna Carta sets the requirements of seafarers, the terms and conditions of employment, including number of work and rest hours, wages and paid annual leave and termination of employment.

It further assures the stability of the maritime industry by mandating that seafarers should not be below 18 years old, with medical certificate stating his capability to perform his duties and with proper training and a CHED-approved maritime degree or completed basic training courses required by TESDA.

The measure also requires Philippine-registered ships to give entitlements to seafarers such as safe, decent and adequate accommodations, sanitation facilities including separate quarters for male and female, free food and drinking water service.

It also protects the seafarers by making the shipowners responsible for its employees' health protection, medical care and treatment and compensation in case of death or long-term disability.

The measure further seeks to create the Philippine Seafarer One-Stop Processing Center which will be mandated to become an integrated document processing center for the seafarers to conduct official transactions.

Angara said that while the Senate labor committee has reported out its version of the Magna Carta, it would still consider the tripartite-endorsed bill by the Maritime Industry Tripartite Council to effectively address the maritime labor and employment concerns of Filipino seafarers.

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