MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has certified as urgent a measure crafting a magna carta for Filipino seafarers meant to keep them safe and employed abroad, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Marcos told Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri in a letter dated Sept. 25 that Senate Bill No. 2221 titled "Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Filipinos Seafarers" needs to be enacted immediately.
The bill, which affirms seafarers' rights and lays down the responsibilities of recruitment and shipping companies, is pending second reading at the Senate.
A bill that has been certified urgent is exempted from the constitutional requirement for proposed legislation to be read three times and on separate days.
That means they can be voted on and passed on second and on third reading on the same day.
Press Secretary Cheloy Garafil said the measure seeks to address "recurring deficiencies in the domestic laws" on the training and accreditation of Pinoy seafarers, which puts their employment, especially in Europe, at risk.
"The President also said that the bill guarantees to the international community that the Philippines will comply with its obligations of ensuring that Filipino seafarers’ training, facilities, and equipment are at par with the international standards and those set by relevant international conventions," Garafil added.
The Magna Carta for Seafarers is also among the 20 priority pieces of legislation that should be passed by December this year.
The European Union (EU) earlier warned that it would stop honoring seafarer certifications from the Philippines as the country has yet to comply with more modern training systems and requirements for seaborne workers.
In March, the EU said it would continue to recognize the certification of seafarers in the Philippines after seeing that the Philippines has made "serious" developments to comply with maritime labor requirements.
Then Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, who passed away in August, earlier said that President Marcos Jr.’s dialogue with the European Commission in Brussels in 2022 was instrumental in convincing the panel not to decertify around 50,000 seafarers from the Philippines.
As of 2022, there are some 490,000 Filipino seafarers in different parts of the world, Ople earlier said, citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).