Villanueva seeks Magna Carta of Seafarers’ approval; ‘a lifeboat of rights’ for seafarers

Villanueva seeks Magna Carta of Seafarers’ approval; ‘a lifeboat of rights’ for seafarers

by Ernie Reyes

MANILA — For helping keep the economy afloat with their P1 billion a
day remittance, Filipino seafarers deserve a “lifeboat of rights and
privileges,” Senator Joel Villanueva said in sponsoring the proposed
“Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers” bill on Wednesday afternoon.

Decades since the Philippines became a “shipping manning superpower,”
Villanueva said it is time “to put aboard one vessel all the rules
that will protect the welfare” of an estimated 500,000 Filipino
seafarers.

With Filipinos representing “the biggest nationality bloc” in world
shipping, “codifying the rules that protect them is made more pressing
by a pandemic that has placed heavy stress on their health and
livelihood.”

Sponsored by Villanueva and co-authored by six of his colleagues,
Senate Bill No. 2369 spans 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.

“Kaya po may section to protect women cadets. Kabilang na rin ang mga
anti-harassment, anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies
onboard ships,” he said.

He said the bill fulfills standards set by international conventions
and agreements on the occupational safety and health of seafarers,
such as the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006, in which the Philippines
ratified in August 2012.

Rights to just employment terms, decent working conditions, and
dignified living environments, including medical care rest periods,
among others, are enumerated in the bill, said Villanueva.

Among the specific provisions are the rights to complete information
on the exigencies of work engagement and to a standard employment
contract, he explained.

Because seafaring is fraught with danger, “we have devoted an entire
chapter to medical care and maritime occupational safety and health
standards,” Villanueva added.

In between deployments, the Magna Carna enumerates what services a
seafarer can access.

“Bukod pa sa health and safety, malaki po ang maitutulong ng Magna
Carta of Filipino Seafarers para tulungan ang mga marinong natetengga
bago muling makasampa ng barko,” he said.

The bitter lessons of the pandemic have made their way into the
proposed law, with an entire chapter dealing on the repatriation of
Filipino seafarers, Villanueva said.

The bill assigns to the shipowner or the manning agency all costs
related to the repatriation, including basic pay and allowances.

Recognizing the seamen will “spend the sunset of their lives on
land,” the bill spells out reintegration services in Chapter 13.

“Darating ang panahong hindi na sasampa ng barko ang isang seafarer sa
iba’t ibang kadahilanan. Kung mangyari po yan, ang Magna Carta ang
aagapay sa kanya, “ he said.

Villanueva expects the Senate to unanimously approve the bill.
“Maraming divergence sa ibang issues, pero pagdating sa batas na ito,
united po tayo at walang hidwaan.” (ai/mtvn)

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