House approves magna carta for seafarers


Posted at Mar 07 2023 12:57 AM

MANILA - Voting 304 against 4, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7325 or the proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

The proposed law seeks to protect the rights and interests of Filipino seafarers, ensure that they have “full protection” before, during, and after employment, especially in during maritime accidents, epidemics or pandemics, or other natural or man-made crises.

The House Speaker's Office said HB 7325 covers Filipino seafarers “who are employed or engaged or work in any capacity on board foreign-registered ships and Philippine-registered ships operating internationally.”

Under the bill, Filipino seafarers have a right to:

  • 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, welfare measures, medical care;
  • Self-organization;
  • Information about seafarer’s family;
  • Against discrimination;
  • Educational advancement and training;
  • Relevant information;
  • Free legal representation;
  • Appropriate grievance mechanism;
  • Access to communication;
  • Fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident;
  • Fair medical assessment.

The bill also enumerates the duties and responsibilities of seafarers, ship owners and manning agencies. It also mandates that the standard employment contract shall be reviewed and approved by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to ensure that the contract protects the rights of seafarers.

Under the bill, seafarers should be entitled to “medical care, board and lodging for periods spent by a seafarer in quarantine or self-isolation” during a pandemic, as well as “hospitalization and medical treatment when the seafarer is sick or infected – until declared as fully recovered.”

“Seafarers shall be entitled to adequate compensation in the case of injury, loss or unemployment arising from the ship’s loss or foundering, in accordance with the SEC or the CBA (collective bargaining agreement),” the bill read.

The bill also tasks the Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration to establish seafarer welfare facilities or centers in major crew-change ports, “specifically in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Iloilo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, and other areas.”

“A One-Stop-Shop for Seafarers, which shall have representatives from government agencies that process or issue licenses, permits, clearances, and other documents required by seafarers shall also be established in these welfare centers for the convenience of the seafarers and to maximize the services being offered to them,” HB 7325 said.

Under the bill, the Secretary of the DMW, or a duly authorized representative, shall also have access to foreign-registered ships and Philippine-registered ships operating internationally and “conduct inspection to ensure compliance with working and living standards of seafarers as provided under this Act.”

“The shipowner or master shall ensure the compliance of the ship with this Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), who shall be made principally liable for any violation thereof. For this purpose, the Maritime Labour Certificate or a certificate of compliance, as applicable, shall be issued in accordance with the IRR,” it continued. - report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News