Senator Win Gatchalian pressed for the creation of a Magna Carta for Filipino seafarers, through Senate Bill No. 822, in a bid to provide them with better protection, build their competencies through education and skills training, and improve their overall competitiveness and personal advantage.
Gatchalian’s call came in the wake of a deadline this month given by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to some maritime schools in the country to comply with international standards on training and certification for seafarers which could lead to job losses if they continue to be non-compliant.
The “Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers” seeks to ensure that Filipino seafarers are continuously nurtured, protected, and guided by the government in terms of setting up mechanisms that can protect them even beyond the country’s borders, recognize their rights, contributions, and unique role as essential maritime professionals.
Gatchalian said the proposed measure also seeks to ensure that Filipino seafarers are afforded the right to just terms and conditions of work, the right to educational advancement and training at reasonable and affordable costs, and the right to fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident, among others. In addition, the bill ensures that seafarers’ employment shall cease when they complete their period of contractual service.
While leaders from the transportation, labor, foreign affairs, and migrant workers departments vowed to address concerns on training standards, Gatchalian said that the urgent problem needs to be addressed immediately.
He noted that the Philippines continues to be one of the major suppliers of maritime labor globally. It is estimated that there is one Filipino seafarer for every 4 to 5 crew members on board a vessel at any time. While there was a 54% drop in the total number of seafarers deployed overseas in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported that the level of deployment in 2021 was almost the same before the pandemic at around 40,000 deployments per month.
High demand for Filipino seafarers has resulted in sea-based remittances to reach $6.54 billion in 2021, accounting for 21% of total dollar remittances, Gatchalian said.
“Ito ay isang patunay kung gaano kalaki ang kontribusyon ng industriya sa paglago ng ekonomiya ng bansa kaya’t dapat magkaroon ng mga mekanismo na lalong magpapalakas sa industriya at magbibigay ng sapat na proteksyon sa ating mga marino,” he said.