Villanueva welcomes vaccination of seafarers in Manila; says jab to rejuvenate PH seafaring industry

Senator Joel Villanueva underscored the importance of vaccinating Filipino seafarers, saying the start of their inoculation on Thursday would allow them to return on ships onboard and resume their livelihood severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Villanueva joined officials at the vaccination kickoff, led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, NTF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, where about seafarers set to be deployed overseas in the coming months received Pfizer jabs from the government.


“Kapag nawala ang mga Pilipino sa seafaring industry, tiyak pong pilay ang buong industriya dahil 1 sa bawat 3 seafarer sa buong mundo ay Pilipino,” Villanueva told the audience at the kickoff ceremony on Thursday morning. “Nagagalak po tayo na may bakuna na ang ating mga OFWs at seafarers. Kapag natapos na po ang inyong pagbabakuna, siguradong barko na ang susunod.”


Over 1,000 seafarers trooped to the Palacio de Maynila events grounds to queue in the vaccination program facilitated by the Inter Agency Task Force and the City Government of Manila. Another 1,000 seafarers are expected to be vaccinated on Friday.


Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, reiterated the importance of vaccinating workers whom the government placed under A4 priority in the country’s vaccination program. The country’s seafaring industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors in the pandemic.

“Kapag nawala ang mga Pilipino sa seafaring industry, tiyak pong pilay ang buong industriya dahil 1 sa bawat 3 seafarer sa buong mundo ay Pilipino.”

The lawmaker has been pushing for the inclusion of essential workers and economic frontliners in the government’s vaccination priority list. From an initial 24.6 million target, the government increased it to 35 million to include economic frontliners and essential workers, such as market vendors, supermarket attendants, security personnel, PUV drivers, sanitation workers, public utility employees, among others.


The government, on the other hand, moved OFWs from A4 priority to A1 priority.


Villanueva also gave an update on the Magna Carta of Seafarers bill, which the labor committee chair has been pushing. He said the committee held a technical working group meeting also on Thursday morning to iron out several bills.


He said he expected to bring the bill to the plenary once the session resumes in July.


The bill seeks to establish a Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers which specifies the rights of seafarers, including their right to self-organization, right to educational advancement and training, and right to certificate of employment, among others.


The bill also mandates the DOLE to formulate the Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Standards and to maintain a registry of seafarers.