Default Thumbnail

PCSA hits Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers

February 25, 2024 Jester P. Manalastas 116 views

THE primary operator of the Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) in the country is appealing to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to veto and order review of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

In a letter sent to the President and Congress leaders, the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association (PCSA) expressed its strong opposition to the said measure which is set to be signed into law next week.

According to PCSA, the consensus of the stakeholders is that the current version of the Magna Carta will “kill the domestic shipping industry and ultimately the seafaring industry” in the Philippines.

PCSA is the country’s largest shipping association comprised of Filipino shipowners that operate short and medium-haul routes, including RORO.

For several years, the stakeholders have been airing their concerns and opposition to the implementation of policies patterned after international convention standards to the domestic shipping industry as this would is without merit, utterly ridiculous and reeks of abandonment of the plight of the industry.

The group likewise emphasized that international instrument such as Maritime Labor Code (MLC 2006) and International Standard Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, which the Magna carta seeks to implement for domestic ships are specifically tailored for international ships and voyages that require longer travel period.

“As the current version of the Magna Carta will cripple the domestic maritime sector and the national economy, we stand form in unity and appeal to His Excellency to veto the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers. Its passage would be the beginning of the end of the Philippine’s shipping industry and His Excellency should not allow this happen,” the letter read.

“It is no-brainer that the lack of rigorous analysis of policy option and lack of proper coordination with stakeholders more often than not produced oppressive measures that resulted in the decline of key economic sectors. The maritime stakeholders cannot stand by idly and watch as our sector is engulfed by flamers at sea without fighting until the end to salvage it,” it added. \

The group claimed that despite numerous meetings and consultations with MARINA, Department of Transportation (DoTr), Congress and other concerned agencies, the stakeholders concerns were not given importance and their objections were disregarded without explanation.

Among the provisions of the bill that are overboard and burden to the domestic maritime industry are Section 28 (training and qualifications); Section 43 (accommodation and recreational facilities); Section 65 (employment contract); Section 32 (Standard Employment Contract); Section 66 (Hours of Work and Hours of Rest); Section 73 (Compliance and Certification); Section 81 (applicability); Section 82 (shipboard training); Secrion 83 (shipboard training agreement for cadets); Section 85 (requirements for Philippine-registered ships on shipboard training).

The group stressed that requiring shipowners to spend million of pesos for the reconfiguration of the domestic ships will affect the operational cost of operators which will ultimately force shipowners either to increase shipping fees or close up shop.

“We therefore, highlight the domestic ships should be exempted or excluded from these provisions considering that the shorter length of domestic voyages allows their crew to go home or make use of comparable facilities on land. The implementation of these provisions for domestic ships and domestic seafarers is utterly ridiculous and completely out of touch with reality,” the appeal said.

In addition, the PCSA said that it also disturbing that the Magna Carta abolishes the security of tenure of domestic seafarers by requiring the execution of employment contracts without a government mandated duration.

A careful examination of the provisions reveals that the shipowner and domestic seafarers are allowed to agree on a definite duration of the employment contract without the benefit of security of tenure thereby making the domestic seafarers a mere contractual employee.

In this light, the group is inviting legislators and policy makers to board the domestic ship to see the reality of the conditions firsthand. The experience will open their eyes to the peculiarities of the domestic maritime industry and see that the bill will kill the local shipping industry.

The said letter of appeal was signed by PCSA Chairman Lucio Roger Lim and PCSA president Paul Rodriguez.