Senator Sonny Angara on Sunday said he is optimistic the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, which seeks to uphold the rights of Filipino seafarers would soon become a law.
Angara noted, the measure, Senate Bill No. 2369, has been languishing in the legislative mill for over a decade now.
“We have filed this bill numerous times. It’s very important to honor the contribution of our seafarers to our nation’s economy, that’s why it is only right that we strengthen their rights and provide more protection under this proposed law,” said Angara, who is one of the authors of the measure.
The bill is now up for plenary debates. The measure primarily seeks to uphold the privilege of Filipino seafarers namely, the right to just terms and conditions of work; right to self-organization, to engage in collective bargaining, and to participate in democratic exercises; right to consultation; right to educational advancement and training at a reasonable cost.
It also seeks to promote their right to information; right to information of a seafarer’s family or next of kin; right to communication; the right to safe passage and safe travel.
Angara also said the measure recognizes their right against discrimination; their right to be protected against all forms of harassment and bullying; and the right to secure a record or employment or certificate of employment; right to fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident; and the right to free legal representation.
Filipino seafarers will also be provided with various perks and minimum standards of employment, including compulsory benefits like decent accommodation, sanitation, recreation and food facilities, under the proposed law.
“Definitely this Magna Carta of Seafarers will continue the tradition of helping our seafarers. This bill has been pending in the legislative mill for some time, over a decade if I’m not mistaken,” he said.
“I pay tribute to Sen. Joel Villanueva for using his considerable political skills, his considerable savvy and his hard work in coming up with a version that I think reconciles the interest of the various stakeholders,” said Angara.
Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment and sponsor of the bill, said the measure fulfills standards set by international conventions and agreements on the occupational safety and health of seafarers, such as the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 which the Philippines ratified in August 2012.
Villanueva said Senate Bill No. 2369, covers all aspects of a seafarer’s career, from training to retirement, and covers all the institutions in between, from maritime schools and manning agencies to welfare funds.
“The Magna Carta lives up to its name as a forward-looking measure that responds to rising trends in the maritime world, like the growing participation of women, “ Villanueva said.