Bong Go

Bong Go pushes anew passage of Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers

April 20, 2023 People's Journal 295 views

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go renewed his push for the passage of his filed Senate Bill No. 1191 that seeks to provide a Magna Carta for Seafarers.

The senator, also Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, cited the significant role of Filipino seafarers in global trade and marine transportation as well as the huge contribution of all overseas Filipino workers to the country’s economy.

The bill, if passed into law, aims to cover a wide range of issues that usually affect seafarers. It shall help secure the right of the country’s seafarers to decent and humane employment and set a guide for seafarers on training, overseas employment, and retirement.

“I have been relentless in pursuing the interests and welfare of our overseas Filipino workers, including seafarers. Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy kong ipaglalaban ang kapakanan ng ating mga seafarers dahil hindi po biro ang kanilang trabaho na mapalayo sa kanilang mga pamilya para lang mabigyan sila ng mas magandang kinabukasan,” expresed Go.

“The Philippines has been the primary source of maritime labor and considered the manning capital of seafarers globally since 1987. Of the 1.5 million mariners worldwide, 25% are Filipino sea-based workers, making them the single biggest nationality bloc in the maritime industry,” he cited previously.

In an open letter of the United Filipino Seafarers Labor Federation to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and to senators, published recently, the group reiterated its support for the passage of House Bill No. 7325, also known as the Magna Carta for Seafarers. It also sought for better protection for seafarers, particularly regarding settlement of various employment-related claims.

“Katulad ng pagsuporta natin sa mga OFWs hanggang sa naisabatas ang panukalang nagtatag sa Department of Migrant Workers, nais ko rin na mabigyan natin ng kaukulang suporta at proteksyon ang ating mga seafarers, kung merong Magna Carta para sa kanila, mas mabibigyan natin sila ng proteksyon at mas maraming suporta,” said Go.

Meanwhile, Go thanked the European Commission (EC) after its decision to continue recognizing certificates issued by the Philippines that will allow Filipino seafarers to continue working on European Union (EU)-flagged ships.

It can be recalled that in December 2021, EC informed the Philippine government that the recognition of its seafarer certificates would be withdrawn unless serious measures were taken, including compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for seafarers.

“Nais ko rin pong pasalamatan ang European Commission sa inyong desisyon dahil ito po ay nakatulong sa halos 50,000 seafarers, ayon sa datos ng Department of Migrant Workers. Isa lamang itong patunay na ginagawa talaga ng gobyerno ang kanilang makakaya upang siguraduhin na mapangalagaan ang kapakanan ng ating mga manggagawa,” said Go.

“Bilang dagdag na suporta sa seafarers, tulungan rin nating maiangat ang kanilang kapasidad sa kanilang trabaho para masigurong at par sa international standards ang kanilang kakayahan. Proteksyunan natin ang kanilang mga karapatan,” he added.

The senator then underscored that the proposed Magna Carta for Seafarers is particularly crucial for protecting the rights and welfare of seafarers in situations where they are vulnerable or exploited, such as during emergencies, accidents, or conflicts.

The Magna Carta seeks to systematize the rights of the seafarers into a single reference law, including their right to just terms and conditions of work, self-organization, educational advancement and training, information and consultation, fair treatment in the event of an accident, and against discrimination.

It also aims to provide standard terms and conditions of employment for seafarers, including provisions related to wages, hours of work and rest, leaves, and social welfare benefits. If enacted, it shall likewise mandate ship owners to provide medical care, both on-board and ashore, as well as a financial security system to assist our seafarers in case of injuries.

Believing that all Filipino migrant workers, including seafarers, should be given the necessary support and benefits that they rightfully deserve, Go was instrumental in the enactment of Republic Act No. 11641, creating the DMW.

The Senate version of the Act, Senate Bill No. 2234, was co-authored and co-sponsored by Go.

DMW serves as the lead agency for implementing policies, plans and programs that will ensure the protection, promotion of interests, timely resolution of problems, and effective reintegration of OFWs.

“Regalo po natin ito sa ating mga OFWs po na nagsasakripisyo po. Malaking inaambag nila sa ating bayan, mga modern-day heroes natin, para po ito sa inyo, itong Department of Migrant Workers,” Go cited.

“Bukod sa DMW, nandiyan na rin ang OFW hospital na naipatayo noong panahon ni dating pangulong Duterte. May Malasakit Center na rin doon para matulungan ang OFWs at kanilang mga pamilya sa pagpapagamot. Ito po ay pangarap lamang natin noon na naisakatuparan na ngayon. Patuloy po nating ipaglalaban ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipino nasaan man sila sa mundo,” he assured.