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House panel-approved Magna Carta bill establishes ‘tambayan’ for seafarers

House panel-approved Magna Carta bill establishes ‘tambayan’ for seafarers
Billy Begas February 23, 2023

The substitute bill on the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers, which was approved by the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, includes a provision establishing Seafarer Welfare Centers, under the management of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Committee chairperson and Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo said the Seafarer Welfare Centers will offer services, which promote the welfare of and cater to the recreational, cultural, religious, and communication needs of seafarers.

“It will be akin to a tambayan where our seafarers have access to services for their holistic growth,” Salo said.

For so long, Salo said “the programs of the OWWA prioritized our land-based OFWs. Let us now cater to the needs of our seafarers whose concerns have been often overlooked.”

“As mentioned by OWWA Admin Arnell Ignacio in our last committee hearing, seafarers along the streets of Kalaw, under the heat of the sun, have a hard time processing their documents, as well as their money claims. As such, they become vulnerable to ambulance chasers,” Salo explained.

Salo said the Welfare Centers will also house One-Stop Shop Centers where seafarers can facilitate their government transactions, specifically in processing their licenses, permits, clearances, and other documents they need.

Under the Magna Carta, the National Capital Region, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Iloilo, Cebu, Davao, and other areas where there are high concentration of seafarers will be prioritized in setting up Welfare Centers.

The bill also provides free legal assistance to seafarers through the Public Attorney’s Office.

“These enhancements in the Magna Carta will also help address concerns of manning agencies and shipowners on ambulance chasers, which have tarnished the reputation of the country’s maritime industry,” Salo stressed.