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Lawmakers urged to push for right measures for seafarers

Lawmakers urged to push for right measures for seafarers
John Eric Mendoza -March 06, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Seafarer advocates called on the Congress to “push for the right measures” after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s decision to delay the signing of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

Seafarers Rights Philippines made the call even as the group noted that the charter for seafarer rights is now long overdue.

“As this Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers Act is long overdue, its passage therefore is for the interest of Filipino seafarers, such that, we call on our legislators to push for the right measures for the benefits of these suffering modern-day heroes,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.

Marcos certified the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers as urgent in September 2023, but its signing was postponed on Feb. 26 and then later the same day, came the resolution recalling the bill.

The House of Representatives then approved House Concurrent Resolution No. 23, withdrawing the enrolled copies of Senate Bill No. 2221 and House Bill No. 7325 – for the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers Act – from the Office of the President.

The group called on lawmakers “to show empathy to our seafarers and uphold their legal rights for compensation over violations of ship owners and management.”

They objected to the provision that requires the filing of a bond by seafarers who have won their cases with the National Labor Relations Commission or the Voluntary Arbitrator under the National Conciliation and Mediation Board before the award can be released to them.

“Requiring certain conditions, either a cash bond or surety, before a seafarer can access the awarded benefits is another burden to these heroes who have already lost their jobs, are injured, or under disability,” it said.

This provision should be “completely scrapped” as Marcos sought further congressional review for the measure.

“The bond requirement is anti-labor, alien to the purpose of Magna Carta and a counter measure to the very essence of the legislation which is to protect this exploited class of overseas workers.