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Senate pressed to pass bill on seafarers after EU decision

Senate pressed to pass bill on seafarers after EU decision
Beatriz Marie D. Cruz April 5, 2023 |

A SENATOR on Wednesday emphasized the need to pass a bill on the protection and sustained education of Filipino mariners after the European Commission (EC) decided to continue recognizing seafarer certificates issued by the Philippines.

“The challenge remains for the Philippines to ensure that our seafarers are globally competitive given their critical role and contribution to the economic growth of the country,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in statement on Wednesday.

The European Maritime Safety Agency flagged the Philippines’ standards on seafarer training and certification after an inspection in March 2022.

The EC then said about 50,000 Filipino seafarers working in European vessels could lose their jobs if the Philippines does not address its deficiencies.

Mr. Gatchalian noted that remittances from sea-based workers reached $6.54 billion in 2021, representing at least 21% of the total money sent home by Filipinos overseas.

Under Senate Bill No. 82 or An Act Instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers authored by Mr. Gatchalian, seafarers are entitled to affordable education and training, among other rights.

The proposed law seeks to “promote quality maritime education and training that respond to the needs of the industry and in accordance with minimum international maritime standards of competency.”

The government should grant scholarships, subsidies and loan assistance. [Text Wrapping Break]

Seafarers must also have access to a “safe and secure workplace that complies with international standards as well as decent working and living conditions onboard a ship.”

They must also receive salary appropriate to their rank, sickness benefits, and defined work hours consistent with Philippine laws and international maritime conventions.

The bill is pending at the committee level, while House lawmakers approved on third reading its counterpart measure on March 6.

Migrant Workers Secretary Maria Susana V. Ople said on Monday that her department is working with the Commission on Higher Education and the Maritime Industry Authority to address deficiencies in seaman training.