Dela Rosa: No better time to enact Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers but now

Dela Rosa: No better time to enact Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers but now

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa sees the need to urgently
enact Senate Bill No. 2369 (SBN 2369), or the Magna Carta of Filipino
Seafarers, to promote the welfare and protection of Filipino seafarers
overseas as their deployment abroad is on a downtrend due to the
pandemic.

“There is no better time to enact the Magna Carta of Filipino
Seafarers but now… sa pamamagitan ng panukalang batas na ito,
magkakaroon ng kongkretong proteksyon para sa mga Pilipinong seafarers
na nasaan mang karagatan sa mundo,” he said in a co-sponsor speech
last Tuesday.

Section 41 of SBN 2369 provides for the protection of Filipino
seafarers from epidemics, pandemics, and other public health
emergencies as it ensures their entitlement to prompt medical care, as
well as access to medical facilities onshore and medical advice on
physical and mental health.

Also, section 50 provides for the provision of quarantine and medical
expenses before or during repatriation because of infection,
epidemics, and pandemics.

Dela Rosa said the imposition of lockdowns and border closures to
international and domestic travel brought about by the COVID-19
disease has severely shrunk the number of employed Filipino seafarers
abroad.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed
that the number of Filipino seafarers deployed overseas had plunged 54
percent in 2020, equivalent to 217,223, compared to 469,996 in 2019.

The Maritime Industry Authority also reported a 48 percent decline in
the deployment of officers on international vessels corresponding to
the 50,277 in 2020 and 97,400 in 2019, while the number of lower ranks
had dropped to 44 percent, or 93,618, from 166,401 in 2019, and the
number of deployed staff in the non-maritime sector such as hotel
staff for cruise ships and other passenger vessels had suffered a 64
percent fall with only 73,328 employed in 2020, compared to 206,195
before the pandemic started.

Dela Rosa said that while it’s hard to provide all the needs of the
seafarers, the SBN 2369, if enacted into law, will be a big step for
Filipino seafarers to realize their dream for their families.

“Batid natin ang dami ng problema ng ating mga kababayan mandaragat.
Ang aking opisina ay saksi sa mga problemang ito sa dami ng aming
natatangggap na mga sulat na nanghihingi ng ibat-ibang klase ng
tulong,” Dela Rosa said.

He said, for instance, that 75 Filipino seafarers, including crew
members sick with Covid19, onboard the M/V Horizon Pullmantor
Crucerus docked at Port Al Rashid, Terminal 2, Dubai had sought for
his help.

“Humingi sila ng tulong dahil sa kanilang nakapanlulumong sitwasyon at
kulang na medikasyon habang nasa loob ng barko. Ang ilan sa mga ito ay
natulungan nating ma-repatriate pabalik ng ating bansa,” he said.

The Mindanaoan Senator said he recognizes the seafarers’ importance and
challenging role in global trade and economy since about 90 percent of
the world’s food, fuel, raw materials, and manufactured goods are
dispatched and transmitted by sea, according to the International
Maritime Organization. (ai/mtvn)

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