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Proposed Magna Carta for Seafarers

Manila Standard

Congress first passed a proposed Magna Carta for Seafarers bill 10 years ago.

But this proposed law that seeks to protect the rights and welfare of about 700,000 of our seafarers has been in limbo since then because many questions had been raised about certain provisions deemed unacceptable to the sector.

Now, the Philippine Trade and General Workers Organization, the country’s biggest federation of labor unions and organizations, believes it is time for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to sign the new bill since the provisions they considered detrimental to the interests of seafarers have been removed.

The approved Magna Carta for Seafarers bill has several provisions that will protect the rights and welfare of seafarers.

One, it will provide for free training for cadets, interns, apprentices and on-the-job trainees.

Two, it will lead to reasonable and affordable training costs since the government will regulate all educational and training institutions offering courses related to seafaring.

Three, seafarers will be adequately consulted before the enactment of any regulation or law impacting the industry.

Four, seafarers who are victims of violations of the provisions of the proposed law will have the right to free legal assistance and protection at the government’s expense.

Five, the bill provides for gender equality in the maritime industry, as it will protect women seafarers against discrimination, like lesser compensation than males doing similar tasks, undue advantage when it comes to promotion, bullying, harassment, and other gender-based discriminatory practices.

Six, seafarers will be allowed to continually improve their professional competency by keeping up-to-date with the latest technological and scientific developments in various maritime fields, continuous education, and close observation of shipboard activities.

Seven, the proposed law will facilitate the smooth transition of seafarers back to their home country and society after completing their sea service or employment contracts.

For the PTGWO, what has now been passed by Congress is truly an acceptable Magna Carta for Seafarers and should therefore be approved by Malacañang.

President Marcos Jr. certified the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers as urgent in September 2023, but its signing was postponed to the first quarter of this year.

But the PTGWO laments that “each day the Magna Carta is not passed is a day that the working and living conditions of seafarers, the terms and conditions of their employment, as well the social and welfare services for them and their families, are compromised” and therefore “we are one with them in imploring our President to immediately sign it into law.”

It’s a reasonable plea that the Palace should heed forthwith.

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