Senator Joel Villanueva on Saturday reiterated his call to give protection to the country’s seafarers by passing the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.
In line with the celebration of the National Seafarers’ Day on September 24, Villanueva underscored the importance of enacting a measure that will not only recognize the rights of seafarers but also institute mechanisms to protect their rights, provide them compulsory benefits, and enforce standards set by international laws.
Villanueva co-authored Senate Bill No. 314 or An Act Instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers introduced by Senator Sonny Angara. The proposal is set to be discussed in an upcoming September 27 hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development chaired by Villanueva.
The said measure aims to fill in the gaps in legislation, particularly the Overseas Filipinos and Migrant Workers’ Act of 1996 (RA 8042) which neither completely address concerns of the Filipino seafarers nor abide by the existing standards set by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“The immediate passage of this measure recognizes the contribution of our Filipino seafarers who have contributed much in sustaining our country’s development despite being away from their families and facing the burden of a lonely life on board,” Villanueva said.
In 2015, the total remittance of Filipino seafarers increased to more than USD 5.8 billion from USD 300 million in 1996. The said figure constitutes 22.5 percent of the total foreign remittances the country received.
Moreover, 25 percent of some 1.5 million seafarers around the world are Filipinos. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows that the country deployed more than 400,000 seafarers in 2014.
“With their hard-earned professionalism and sacrifices as they face daily risks at sea, our Filipino seafarers deserve a law that will comprehensively protect their rights in recognition of their world-class service that made us globally recognized in the field of maritime industry,” Villanueva said.