“The vision for a more responsive charter that ensures the protection of, as well as guarantees, the fundamental rights and privileges of Filipinos in the maritime industry is nearing realization with the endorsement by the Maritime Industry Tripartite Council (MITC) of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers to the 16th Congress.”


Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said this yesterday after the Maritime Industry Tripartite Council approved the adoption and consequently pushed for the endorsement of the draft Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers to the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Congress of the Philippines.


Baldoz is the chairman of the MITC.


In the MITC meeting held at the AMOSUP Convention Hall and which she presided, Bureau of Labor Relations Director Benjo Santos M. Benavidez presented and discussed the final draft of the Magna Carta among a full-house MITC membership.


The MITC ensured that the tripartite-endorsed bill addresses the maritime labor and employment concerns of Filipino seafarers engaged, employed, or working in any capacity on board Philippine-registered ships operating domestically or internationally as well as those on-board foreign registered ships.


“The Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, which had passed the MITC’s review and of its technical working group, recognizes the rights, contributions, and unique role of Filipino seafarers, as well as their vulnerabilities, and afford them full protection before, during, and after their employment,” said Baldoz.


“We all look forward to its ‘smooth sailing’ in the Congress. This bill, if and when it passes into law, will really serve as the ‘anchorage’ of Filipino seafarers in getting optimum welfare and better working conditions. The Magna Carta supports their career prospects, rights and privileges, and provides opportunities for harnessing their potentials to the fullest,” she added.


The Magna Carta for Seafarers endorsed by the MITC in the 16th Congress is a consolidation of all pending bills authored by several lawmakers during the 15th Congress. It also incorporates inputs from the maritime stakeholders during a series of regional consultations and advocacy on the Maritime Labor Convention.


One of the seafarer’s rights guaranteed in the Magna Carta is access to educational advancement and training at reasonable and affordable costs, whether plying domestic or international waters.
“Scholarships, subsidies, loan assistance and other measures that will develop the skills of Filipino seafarers toward greater competitiveness to the new demands of the maritime industry are also guaranteed in the Magna Carta,” Baldoz said.


The Magna Carta also bats for the seafarers’ access to relevant information and ensure that manning or crewing agencies shall provide Filipino seafarers with adequate and relevant information to make them understand their rights, benefits, obligations, conditions, and realities attending to their profession, and laws and regulations of countries covered by their sojourn.
“With the indispensable role of the information and communications technology in maintaining communication and family ties, especially among the OFWs, this bill gives our seafarers the right to access to communication. During their free time or off-duty, they are given the privilege to have reasonable access to ship-to-shore telephone communications, emails, and Internet facilities,” Baldoz said.
The seafarers shall be also allowed reasonable rest periods in accordance with international standards and the Labor Code of the Philippines. They shall be entitled to adequate time for rest and sleep. The period of rest shall, during any 24-hour period, amount to not less than 10 hours. They are likewise guaranteed of a shore leave when practicable.


As guaranteed also by the Magna Carta, Filipino seafarers who are victims of illegal recruitment, illegal dismissal or suspension and other forms of violation of contracts shall have the right to free legal assistance and protection at government expense.


End/GS Rubio


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