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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Solon hails Magna Carta for Pinoy seafarers

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OFW Party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino on Thursday expressed hope that the bill instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers improve the working and living conditions and ensure the socio-economic well-being of Filipino seafarers.

Magsino, author of the measure, made the statement as she thanked the House leadership led by Speaker Martin G. Romualdez for its approval of House Bill 7325 which proposes the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

The bill provides the seafarers’ rights, duties, conditions of employment, minimum requirements to work on a ship and other entitlements, together with the duties and responsibilities of the shipowners and manning agencies.

Magsino stressed the need to craft legislation that would ensure that their rights are laid down clearly, and the arrangements that they are subjected to are constantly monitored.

Magsino noted that while several laws have been crafted such as the Migrant Workers And Overseas Filipinos Act, they remain to be insufficient in directly targeting the unique needs and setup of seafarers.

“There can be no better time than now, in ensuring that a specific law which would guarantee that the seafarers whose employment is of distinct nature, is finally passed. We should not wait another decade, or worse, another pandemic, before we respond to this sector from whom we have gained so much,” Magsino said.Maricel V. Cruz

On Wednesday, the lower house approved HB 7325 on second reading through voice voting.

The bill aims to ensure that Filipino seafarers are treated fairly at all times, especially in the event of a maritime accident, epidemic, pandemic, or other natural or man-made crises.

It covers Filipino seafarers who are employed, engaged or work in any capacity on board foreign-registered ships and Philippine-registered ships operating internationally.

Among the rights of Filipino seafarers, as stipulated in the bill, include the following: safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; fair terms and conditions of employment; decent working and living conditions on board a ship; health protection, medical care, welfare measures; self-organization; educational advancement and training; relevant information; free legal representation and speedy disposition of case; appropriate grievance mechanism; and access to communication, among others.

The bill requires a standard employment contract of the seafarer, which contains the terms and conditions of employment duly approved by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

It states ship owners shall be required to provide decent accommodations and recreational facilities onboard ships.

The bill provides that ship owners shall also be required to ensure the protection of the health of seafarers by carrying onboard free food and drinking water of appropriate quality, quantity, and nutritional value.

Under the bill, a “green lane” shall be provided for seafarers that shall exempt them from travel-related or health-related movement restrictions to facilitate crew change when national or international emergencies warrant.

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