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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Bill to protect rights, interests of Filipino seafarers passed on final reading in House
06 March 2023 05:42:36 PM

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a
measure that seeks to protect the rights and interests of Filipino
seafarers, ensuring that they have “full protection” before, during,
and after employment, especially in the event of maritime accidents,
epidemics or pandemics, or other natural or man-made crisis.

Voting 304 against 4, the chamber overwhelmingly voted to pass House Bill (HB)
No. 7325, shortly titled “Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” which
also aims to develop a pool of competent and world-class seafarers
“through a system of education, training, certification, and

“Our seafarers are our unsung heroes. Almost 400,000 of them are on
board merchant shipping vessels around the world at any given time.
They are not only a source of income for the country through their
remittances but also a source of pride,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G.
Romualdez said.

“Hinahangaan ang ating mga Pinoy seafarers sa buong mundo. Kaya bilang
pagkilala sa kanilang kontribusyon sa ating bansa, nararapat lamang na
sila ay bigyan natin ng proteksyon sa ilalim ng batas, upang sila ay
hindi maabuso at malagay sa peligro,” he added.

Some of the authors of the bill are Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo,
OFW Party-list Rep. Marissa “Del Mar” P. Magsino, Cavite Rep. Lani
Mercado Revilla, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, Camarines Sur Rep.
LRay Villafuerte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, Ako Bisaya Party-list Rep.
Sonny Lagon, and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman.

Provisions of HB 7325 cover Filipino seafarers “who are employed or
engaged or work in any capacity on board foreign-registered ships and
Philippine-registered ships operating internationally.”

According to the measure, Filipino seafarers have a right to:

* Safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards;
* Fair terms and conditions of employment;
* Decent working and living conditions on board a ship;
* Health protection, welfare measures, medical care;
* Self-organization;
* Information about seafarer’s family;
* Against discrimination;
* Educational advancement and training;
* Relevant information;
* Free legal representation;
* Appropriate grievance mechanism;
* Access to communication;
* Fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident;
* Fair medical assessment.

The bill also lists the duties and responsibilities of seafarers, as
well as of ship owners and manning agencies.

It also mandates that the standard employment contract, or SEC, shall
be reviewed and approved by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to
ensure that the contract stipulations adhere to or protects the rights
of seafarers as laid down in the measure.

HB 7325 goes to great measures to lay down the protection mechanism
for seafarers in cases of epidemics, pandemics, maritime accidents,
and other crises, which entitles them to full compensation.

If affected by a pandemic or epidemic, seafarers should be entitled to
“medical care, board and lodging for periods spent by a seafarer in
quarantine or self-isolation,” as well as “hospitalization and medical
treatment when the seafarer is sick or infected – until declared as
fully recovered.”

“Seafarers shall be entitled to adequate compensation in the case of
injury, loss or unemployment arising from the ship’s loss or
foundering, in accordance with the SEC or the CBA (collective
bargaining agreement),” the bill read.

The Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration is also mandated to
establish seafarer welfare facilities or centers in major crew-change
ports, “specifically in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Cavite,
Batangas, Iloilo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, and other

“A One-Stop-Shop for Seafarers, which shall have representatives from
government agencies that process or issue licenses, permits,
clearances, and other documents required by seafarers shall also be
established in these welfare centers for the convenience of the
seafarers and to maximize the services being offered to them,” HB 7325

The Secretary of the DMW, or a duly authorized representative, shall
also have access to foreign-registered ships and Philippine-registered
ships operating internationally and “conduct inspection to ensure
compliance with working and living standards of seafarers as provided
under this Act.”

“The shipowner or master shall ensure the compliance of the ship with
this Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), who shall
be made principally liable for any violation thereof. For this
purpose, the Maritime Labour Certificate or a certificate of
compliance, as applicable, shall be issued in accordance with the
IRR,” it continued. (END)