Magna Carta for Pinoy Seafarers gets House panel nod

The proposed Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers has been approved by the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs in the House of Representatives.

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo, committee chairman, oversaw on Thursday, Feb. 9 the deliberations and subsequent approval of the magna carta, which is contained in a currently unnumbered substitute bill.

In essence, the bill aims to protect the rights and promote the welfare of seafarers, as well as revitalize the industry.

“The substitute bill addresses the perennial problem of the maritime higher educational institutions’ (MHEI) lack of training ships and the difficulty of our cadets to complete their shipboard training by requiring registered shipowners to accept cadets, and for MHEIs to enter into an agreement with the shipowners for the shipboard training of our cadets,” Salo explained.

“This will also address the recent findings of the European Maritime Safety Association (EMSA) on our country’s compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW Convention),” Salo remarked. “Further, the Magna Carta adopts measures to ensure that our maritime education curriculum follows international standards,” he said.

Salo assured stakeholders that the panel took into account their concerns in drafting the consolidated bill, which was an amalgamation of 12 separate measures.

He said the harmonized measure was “holistic, effective, and most responsive to the needs of Filipino seafarers".

Among its key provisions, the Kabayan lawmaker said, is the right of seafarers to educational advancement and training at reasonable and affordable costs.

The proposed magna carta also stipulates the duties and responsibilities of seafarers, as well as their other rights and privileges.

“This magna carta will go a long way in solving a myriad of issues with the Philippine maritime sector. I would like to congratulate all the authors, committee members, government agencies, and all stakeholders for their active participation and support. And of course to the House leadership, Speaker Martin Romualdez, for making this bill a priority,” Salo said.

Several government agencies expressed their support for the bill’s passage, including the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) led by Administrator Arnel Ignacio.

Meanwhile, committee members approved a motion to include the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the magna carta.

Salo is hopeful that the bill would be up for plenary deliberations by next week.