Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged the government to ensure that assistance is readily available to the families of survivors and missing Filipino seafarers aboard the Gulf Livestock 1 that sank off the coast of Japan last Wednesday.
Hontiveros said the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) must work closely together and coordinate with the manning agency of the 39 Filipino seafarers and the ship owner of the ill-fated cargo vessel to make sure that contractual obligations are fulfilled.
“My heart goes out to the on board seafarers, especially their families who are anxiously waiting for the return of their loved ones. Sigurado akong mga breadwinner sila ng kanilang mga pamilya (I am very sure they are breadwinners for their family),” Hontiveros said.
“Kailangang nakaantabay ang DoLE, OWWA, at POEA mula sa day-to-day updates ng rescue operations, hanggang sa pagbibigay ng employer ng mga benepisyong dapat na matanggap ng pamilya (DoLE, OWWA, POEA should monitor any updates on the rescue operations on a day-to-day basis, up until the employer is able to provide the benefits to the families),” she added.
The incident, she said, highlighted the need to pass into law a more comprehensive ”Magna Carta for Seafarers” to institutionalize reforms to promote better protection of seafarers and their families especially during maritime accidents such as this latest incident.
“While we welcome government’s initiative to provide aid to the families of our seafarers, moving forward, wala na dapat kakaba-kabang seafarer o pamilya kada sasampa ng barko at maglalayag ang ating mga marino,(no seafarer or family should be afraid each time they get on board a ship and set sail),” she said.
“Mas maganda kung ma-institutionalize ang agarang pagbibigay ng benepisyo at mas maayos na ugnayan ng mga marino at tripulante at ng kanilang ahensya o employer (and it is best if we are able to institutionalize the granting of benefits and apply better coordination for the seafarers and crew members with their agencies and employers),” the senator said.