The Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has entered into an agreement that will harmonize government actions towards effective compliance with and implementation of the International Labor Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006).

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya signed the agreement as the highest representatives of the two national government agencies responsible for the MLC, 2006’s implementation.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Maximo Q. Mejia, Jr. witnessed the signing. Also present at the event were Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) Director Catherine Legados-Parado and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Rodolfo D. Isorena.

The agreement spells out the responsibilities of the DOLE, DOTC, POEA, MARINA, and the PCG in implementing the MLC, 2006. Its main feature is the DOLE-DOTC Coordinating Mechanism (DCMM) on MLC, 2006 which shall be established at the national and regional levels to effectively carry out the agreement.

Baldoz said the agreement clarifies and acknowledges the role of the DOLE as the government agency tasked to promote and protect workers’ rights and welfare and to maintain industrial peace by promoting harmonious relationship between workers and employers.

On the other hand, Secretary Abaya emphasized that the DOTC’s role is to promote, develop, and regulate a dependable and coordinated network of transportation and communications systems and fast, safe, efficient, and reliable transportation and communications services.

“The agreement recognizes the unique characteristic of the Philippines as a flag State, a port State, and a labor supplying State. Therefore, we recognize the need to harmonize all government interventions with the MARINA, PCG, and other relevant government agencies having jurisdiction and supervision with respect to compliance to the MLC, 2006’s provisions,” the two Cabinet officials added.

President Benigno S. Aquino III ratified the MLC, 2006, considered the seafarers’ “bill of rights”, on 20 August 2012. The convention entered into force and effect on 20 August 2013.

The DOLE-DOTC agreement outlines the responsibilities of both departments with regards the MLC, 2006, as follows:

The DOLE, in implementing the MLC, 2006 and in carrying out “labour-supplying responsibilities”, shall:
(a)  enforce and ensure compliance by all shipowners with the provisions of D.O. No. 129, Series of 2013, for Philippine Registered Ships (PRS) engaged in domestic shipping, and D.O. No. 130, Series of 2013, for PRS engaged in international voyages;
(b)  coordinate its enforcement and compliance-monitoring activities with the DOTC, through MARINA and PCG, including the schedules and conduct of assessments of PRS on their compliance with the rules and regulations governing the employment and working conditions of seafarers;
(c) share with DOTC findings of deficiencies/non-conformities with the rules and regulations governing the employment and working conditions of seafarers onboard PRS, which may require appropriate action/s from the DOTC; and
(d)  maintain, through the POEA, a registry of all Filipino seafarers for overseas employment purposes.

The DOTC, in exercising its power of supervision over the MARINA, which is the Flag State Administration, shall ensure that  latter performs the following:
(a) ensure compliance with safe manning level pursuant to existing maritime laws and regulations;
(b) ensure the competence and qualifications of seafarers;
(c) maintain a registry of seafarers;
(d) provide updated list of PRS both on domestic and international shipping upon request by the DOLE;
(e) notify the DOLE in case the PRS changes flag or ownership; and
(f) notify foreign port state authorities to coordinate with the DOLE and its Recognized Organizations regarding the implementation and enforcement of MLC, 2006.

The DOTC shall also ensure that the Philippine Coast Guard, which is the Port State Authority of the Philippines, shall:
(a)  inspect every foreign ship calling on any Philippine port, in accordance with Article V, paragraph 4 of MLC, 2006, to determine whether the ship complies with requirements relating to seafarers’ working and living conditions, including seafarers’ rights. Such inspection is limited, except in the circumstances specified in Regulation 5.2 of the MLC, 2006, to an examination of the Maritime Labour Certificate and Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance;
(b)  prohibit a foreign ship from leaving port in case of finding of non-compliance with MLC, 2006 and the conditions on board are clearly hazardous to the safety, health, or security of seafarers;
(c)  detain, stop, or prevent a PRS from leaving port upon request by the DOLE in the followings instances–if the findings of the joint assessment/compliance visit constitute breach of the rules and regulations; imminent danger to the ship or refusal to allow the conduct of joint assessment/compliance visit; denial of access to the ship or refusal to allow the conduct of joint assessment/compliance visit;  failure or refusal to secure the required Certificate of Compliance; revocation of the Certificate of Compliance; and, other circumstances analogous with or similar to the foregoing, and other grounds as may be determined by the DOLE Secretary.

The PCG shall also coordinate with the DOLE any seafarer’s complaint requiring redress through onshore complaint-handling mechanism; notify or report to DOLE any foreign ship with Filipino seafarers found to be deficient or non-compliant with the requirements of the MLC, 2006; and assist in the enforcement of DOLE issuances implementing the MLC, 2006’s provisions.

Any question about this release? Call the Bureau of Working Conditions at 527-3000 locals 303 or 307 or email [email protected],  or call DOLE hotline 527-8000.

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