Legarda urges ‘comprehensive legislation’ for Filipino seafarers
In celebration of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25, Senator Loren Legarda has renewed her call for mechanisms that would provide better protection for the rights and welfare of Filipino sea-based workers.
Legarda said there is a need to implement a strong, consistent legislative agenda for Filipino seafarers to address issues currently facing the maritime industry.
“Various policies to protect the welfare of our seafarers are scattered in numerous existing laws. This indicates a need for a more comprehensive legislation that will cover all these provisions, while at the same time complying with international maritime standards,” she said in a statement on Friday.
Legarda said she would re-file in the 17th Congress the proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers and a bill establishing a National Seafarers Commission to address the specific concerns and needs of maritime workers.
“We need to establish the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers that would guarantee their right to humane working conditions and just compensation through ensuring that manning and crewing agencies provide adequate information about on-board conditions as well as local and international laws that apply to the Filipino seafarer,” she said.
The senator also underscored the need to create a National Seafarers Commission to serve as the centralized government agency that will provide the necessary services, supervision, regulation and guidance which the Filipino seafarers need.
“Filipino seafarers have been given inadequate attention in our society. Despite incidents of abduction, unjust compensation and on-board accidents that have been reported, no legislation has been passed to protect and uphold their rights,” she said.
Legarda noted that most of the policies and programs catering to the needs of migrant workers were designed for land-based workers.
“Filipino maritime workers are important human resources of our country. We have to understand that the seafaring profession has unique demands and conditions, thus, we must guarantee that they will be given equal attention and protection by our government.”
“Furthermore, we must ensure that our seafarers comply with the international requirements and maintain their edge over their foreign counterparts,” said the senator.
Legarda is the co-author of Republic Act No. 10635 or “An Act Establishing the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) as the Single Maritime Administration and Enforcement of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers.”
She said she also sponsored Senate concurrence in the ratification of Maritime Labour Convention 2006, the seafarers’ bill of rights, which covers such basic rights as freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; effective abolition of child labor; and elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation. RAM/rga
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