THE Senate and the House of Representatives last Wednesday approved the reconciled version of the bicameral conference committee of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.
“After years of hard work in Congress, our efforts have finally culminated in the approval of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” Kabayan Partylist Rep. Ron Salo said.
“Finally, we have this groundbreaking legislation, which aims to further advance and safeguard the rights and well-being of our Filipino seafarers,” Salo added.
Consistent with the instruction of Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, the House contingent remained resolute in pushing for the adoption of vital provisions that will ensure greater employability of Filipino seafarers in the global scale, which will redound to more opportunities for our seafarers.
The reconciled version has several measures addressing the nefarious practice of ambulance-chasing that has earned a deplorable reputation among Filipino seafarers.
These include: institutionalization of a Department of Health (DoH)- accredited physician in determining appropriate disability grading; inclusion of specific short period of validation and payment of seafarer’s claim; establishment of seafarer’s “tambayan” with full range of services to seafarers, including legal; provision of free legal assistance by the Public Attorney’s Office to seafarers having legal concerns; and clarifying the manner of execution which ensures full restitution of improper awards in cases of reversal or modification, without the need for the seafarer to fork-out from his own pocket.
The reconciled bill also addressed the issue of our maritime graduates’ lack of shipboard training, as well as the compliance to the standards of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
“The bill mandates maritime higher educational institutions (MHEIs) to accommodate up to 150% of their carrying capacity for shipboard training, and require them to employ their own training ship, simulators or similar technologies, or in the absence of a training ship, to enter into agreements with domestic or international shipping companies to accept their graduates for shipboard training.
This will address the issue of the lack of opportunity for shipboard training for our maritime graduates,” Salo said.
The bicameral conference committee was composed of the House of Representatives Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs Chairman Ron P. Salo, Reps. Sandro Gonzalez, Marissa Magsino, Khymer Olaso, and Marlyn Primicias-Aggabas for the House of Representatives, and Senators Raffy Tulfo, Francis Escudero, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros.
“I greatly thank our Senate counterparts, led by Sen. Raffy Tulfo, whose support for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of our seafarers, is undeniable,” Salo stated.
The reconciled version is expected to be ratified by both Houses next week, and will subsequently be submitted for the President’s approval.