Press Release
December 6, 2017

Villanueva bats for bill protecting Filipino seafarers' rights

The Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva discussed on Wednesday Senate Bill Nos. 314, 244, 904 or the Magna Carta of Seafarers Act, SBN 881 or the Pilipinong Marino Act, and SBN 429 or the National Seafarers Commission Act.

The Magna Carta of Seafarers bill, co-authored by Villanueva and introduced by Senator Sonny Angara, aims to institute mechanisms to protect our country's seafarers' rights, provide them compulsory benefits, and enforce standards set by international laws.

The said measure aims to fill in the gaps in legislation, particularly the Overseas Filipinos and Migrant Workers' Act of 1996 (RA 8042) which neither completely address concerns of the Filipino seafarers nor abide by the existing standards set by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

"Napapanahon po na ipasa ang panukalang batas na ito upang kilalanin ang kontribusyon ng ating dakilang Filipino seafarers sa buong mundo," Villanueva said during today's public hearing.

In a data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, it showed that sea-based Filipino workers remitted more than $1.9 billion from January to April 2015, a 5.6 percent increase from $1.8 billion during the same period in 2014.

Villanueva acknowledged the importance of passing the said proposal as the Philippines is considered as the manning capital of the world. In fact, 30% out of more than 1.2 million mariners in the world are Filipinos.

Moreover, there are 100 maritime academies in the Philippines, which produce some 40,000 seafarers each year, according to a 2011 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) report. The same report also revealed that there are more than 400 licensed crewing agents in the Philippines thus servicing the rising demand of Filipino seafarers around the world.

"Mga Pinoy po ang most in demand seafarers sa buong mundo dahil sa taglay nilang husay sa Ingles, technical knowledge, disiplina, pagiging matiyaga, tapat, at maparaan sa trabaho. Marapat lamang po na kilalanin natin ang kanilang dedikasyon sa trabaho sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay proteksiyon sa kanilang karapatan bilang mandaragat," the senator stressed.

"Nais natin siguruhin na mabibigyang proteksiyon ang ating seafarers before, during and after their employment. HIndi po natatapos sa pagsampa nila sa barko ang ating pag-alalay sa ating mga mandaragat."

"Panahon na po upang ipasa natin ang batas upang paigtingin ang karapatan ng ating seafarers at masiguro na sila ay ligtas at hindi inaabuso sa kanilang kinaroroonan," the senator added.

The Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers bill is set to be brought in the plenary during the Senate's resumption of session in January 2018 for further deliberations.

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