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NUPL opposes escrow provision in magna carta of seafarers bill

NUPL opposes escrow provision in magna carta of seafarers bill
March 4, 2023

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has expressed opposition against the inclusion of an escrow provision in the proposed magna carta for seafarers.

“While the passage of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers is laudable and long overdue, the inclusion of Section 51, Escrow as a Manner of Execution, runs counter to the objective of the law which is to protect labor,” the NUPL said in a statement.

The group cited that, under the provision, “Any monetary award by the arbitrator to the seafarer, or his successors-in-interest, made whether in a voluntary or mandatory arbitration, or by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), shall be placed in escrow, if the employer or manning agency has raised or intends to raise the decision for judicial review in accordance with the Rules of Court.”

It added that the amount will “remain in escrow until the issuance of an entry of judgment by the appropriate reviewing court or when the employer or manning agency fails to perfect his appeal or his petition for review.”

“This Escrow provision will amend the Labor Code of the Philippines which allows the immediate payment of the money award to all employees including laborers, OFWs, fishers and seafarers who have won a case with finality at the NLRC or NCMB even if the company files a certiorari at the Court of Appeals later on and even a Petition for Review at the Supreme Court,” the NUPL pointed out.

“Instead of releasing the award to the winning seafarer or to their heirs if they die while the case is pending, it will be deposited in Escrow in a bank and will be released only when the Court of Appeals has affirmed the NLRC decision and the Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals later on,” it lamented.

The group reminded that “the process in the NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission) is tedious and long winding enough.”

The NUPL declared that this insertion in the bill is “violative of the constitutional provision that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws’.”

The group also argued that, should the bill becomes law, “this provision on Escrow would be tantamount to Class Legislation.”

To allow this diminution of the rights of seafarers and their arbitrary exclusion from the protective ambit of the Labor Code of the Philippines and beneficent labor laws is an attack on labor. If they can single out seafarers today, what can prevent them from applying the Escrow on all OFWs later on? Even the Filipino industrial workers here are all at risk, if this anti labor virus is allowed to be inserted in our labor laws.