Tulfo: Ships are hiring more seamen from other countries instead of Filipinos

Senator Rafael “Raffy” Tulfo on Monday, May 22,  expressed concern that ships are hiring more seamen from Vietnam, Myanmar, Africa and China rather than Filipinos in the recent years.

Tulfo issued the statement during a Senate plenary session where he expressed elation over the overwhelming support he received from his colleagues for his call for the swift passage into law of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers this 19th Congress.

Notably, 25 percent of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos, as 489,852 Filipino seafarers were deployed in 2022.

Tulfo pointed out that seafarers also play a big role in the country’s economy.

In 2019 alone, it was estimated that 519,031 deployed Filipino seafarers remitted $6.5 billion to the Philippines.   This is practically 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) that year.  \

As such, Tulfo underscored the need for a Magna Carta to ensure retention of the Filipino seafarer in the global shipping industry because ships have been hiring more seamen from other countries instead of Filipinos in the recent years.

Tulfo, chairman of the Senate committee on migrant workers, said he is happy to receive support both from the Senate majority and minority blocs.

Among those who expressed their vocal support and delivered their co-sponsorship speech include Senate President Juan Miguel ‘’Migz’’ Zubiri, and Senators Ronald ‘’Bato’’ dela Rosa, Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M.  Angara, Risa Hontiveros, Christopjher ‘’Bong’’ Go, Ramon ‘’Bong’’ Revilla Jr., Imee Marcos and Sherwin Gatchalian.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Senate Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva and Senator Francis Tolentino also supported the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

In his sponsorship speech delivered today, Tulfo said the Magna Carta is important to inform seafarers of their rights and duties, promote their continuous employment on board foreign owned vessels and empower government agencies to help them, among others.

“Our seafarers deserve our support and protection.  This Magna Carta is a message to our seafarers that we are behind you; a guarantee to the international community that we will comply with the standards set by the relevant conventions; and a command to our government officials to hit the ground running in ensuring that we keep our obligations to these conventions,” he stressed.

In the 18th Congress, the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers measure was left pending for second reading at the Senate while the counterpart of the measure has already hurdled third reading at the House of Representatives.

Aside from Tulfo, 13 other senators filed versions of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers this 19th Congress.

Tulfo said measures must be formulated to address key manpower issues, through promotion of careers at sea, enhancement of maritime education and training worldwide, thus addressing the retention of seafarers.