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House vows support for Magna Carta for Seafarers

House vows support for Magna Carta for Seafarers
Delon Porcalla - October 2, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has assured Filipino seafarers that the chamber is in “full support” of their rights and will always promote their welfare and well-being.

“Under President Marcos’ leadership, we are committed to fostering an enabling environment that promotes the welfare of seafarers, supports the growth of the maritime industry, and advances sustainable practices,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said.

Last week, Marcos certified the Magna Carta for Seafarers measure as urgent.

Administration lawmakers, among them Representatives Ron Salo (Kabayan party-list), Marissa Magsino (OFW party-list) and LRay Villafuerte (Camarines Sur’s 2nd District), all welcomed the President’s move to prioritize the welfare of Filipino workers in foreign vessels, either commercial or tankers.

“This bill is a lifeline for our Filipino seafarers who leave their homes to navigate the world’s oceans, carrying our flag high and contributing substantially to our nation’s economy,” Salo said of House Bill 7325 that was approved last March, and which the Senate has also recently okayed.

“As one of the principal authors in the House, I thank our senators for passing the counterpart measure, Senate Bill 2221, on third reading. This brings us closer to ensuring decent, just and humane working conditions that our Filipino seafarers rightfully deserve,” Magsino said.

“This is the least that we lawmakers can do for our sailors who are among our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), whose combined remittances have helped prop up our economy even during times of crises,” Villafuerte remarked.

The House-approved bill also aims to bestow sufficient powers upon the Department of Migrant Workers and other agencies concerned to better protect seafarers, whether in foreign-flagged ships or Philippine-registered vessels operating internationally – up until their retirement.

Salo, who chairs the House committee on overseas workers’ affairs, described this as a “pivotal moment” that “brings us one step closer to transforming this vision into law, ensuring that our Filipino seafarers are granted the dignity, respect and protection they deserve.”

The bill was included as one of the priority measures of the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council for 2023.

“This legislation represents a vital stride in the pursuit of a fair and just working environment for Filipino seafarers, emphasizing the importance of their invaluable contributions to the global maritime industry,” Salo said.

“Our seafarers are the backbone of our maritime industry, and it is our duty to provide them with the necessary support and protection. This Magna Carta not only acknowledges their sacrifices, but also enshrines their rights in law, creating a more secure future for them and their families,” he added.