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Group of local shipping firms asks PBBM to veto, review Magna Carta for Seafarers

Group of local shipping firms asks PBBM to veto, review Magna Carta for Seafarers
Aaron Recuenco Feb 25, 2024

A group of local shipping companies has asked President Marcos to review the Magna Carta for Seafarers that was submitted by the House of Representatives and the Senate to Malacañang for signing into law.

In a statement, the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association (PCSA) said the bill will not serve the interest of the domestic seafarers, ship operators, manning agencies, and maritime institutions since it specifically tailored for international ships and voyages that require longer travel period, larger vessels, and more stringent regulatory measures.

“The consensus among stakeholders is that the current version of the Magna Carta will kill the domestic shipping industry and ultimately the seafaring industry in the Philippines,” the statement read.

The PCSA is composed of Filipino ship owners that operate short and medium-haul routes and the primary operator of Roll-on/Roll-off ships (RORO) in the Strong Republic National Highway.

The group said that since the start of the discussion on the bill, stakeholders have been airing concerns and opposition to the implementation of policies patterned after international convention standards to the domestic shipping industry such as the Maritime Labor Code (MLC, 2006) and International Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

“The stakeholders have been airing their issues and concerns regarding this kind of approach, as in fact, various stakeholders even attended the congressional hearing to properly inform our legislators of the seriousness of the issue and the repercussions if this international convention standards contained in the Magna Carta were to be implemented in the domestic sector,” the statement read.

“Considering that domestic and international sectors are subject to different circumstances and conditions, these international convention standards are, thus, not outright applicable locally,” it added.

The group also asked the President to review at least nine provisions of the Magna Carta related to training requirements, rest and recreation and contracts.

For instance, the PCSA said that requiring shipowners to spend millions of pesos for the reconfiguration of the domestic ships will affect the operational costs of operators which will ultimately force shipowners either to increase shipping fees or close up shop.

Another one, according to the group, is that the Magna Carta abolishes the security of tenure of domestic seafarers by requiring the execution of employment contracts without a government-mandated duration.

The group is seeking exemption from those provisions, arguing that the operations of their members are shorter than their international counterparts.

“As the current version of the Magna Carta will cripple the domestic maritime sector and the national economy, we stand firm in unity and appeal to His Excellency to veto the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” the PCSA said.

“Its passage would be the beginning of the end of the Philippines shipping industry and His Excellency should not allow this to happen,” it added.