Solons call for passage of Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

March 7, 2024, 9:39 pm

MANILA – Two lawmakers on Thursday called for the immediate passage of the proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers following the death of two Filipino seafarers in a recent attack by Houthi rebels on a cargo vessel off Yemen.

House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs chairperson and Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo said the proposed legislation has crucial provisions prohibiting shipowners or manning agencies from waiving their liability and responsibility in covering all costs related to the repatriation, transport of personal effects and remains of seafarers, and mandating financial security in case of abandonment of seafarers.

"I strongly condemn the attack perpetrated by the Houthi rebels against a merchant vessel navigating the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden that led to the tragic death of two Filipino seafarers and injured several other crew members, including two Filipinos who sustained severe wounds," Salo said.

"Now, more than ever, the immediate enactment of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers is paramount," he added.

Salo called on the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide immediate assistance for the repatriation of the victims’ remains, as well as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to assist and support the bereaved families and the injured Filipino crew members.

He also appealed to the United Nations, world powers and other international organizations to take prompt measures to deter any recurrence of such attacks.

OFW party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino, for her part, said such tragedy shows the necessity to pass the charter for seafarer rights to ensure the protection of the welfare of Filipino seafarers, particularly their right to humane working conditions and just compensation.

"Ang ganitong mga trahedya ay nagpapakita ng panganib sa trabaho na kinakaharap ng ating mga marino at sa kahalagahan ng agarang pagpasa ng Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers upang mapangalagaan ang kanilang kapakanan, pati ng kanilang pamilya sa panahon ng mga krisis (This kind of tragedy shows the workplace hazards that our seafarers face and the urgency to pass the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers to safeguard their welfare and their families in times of crisis)," she said.

Magsino said the proposed law will ensure that Filipino seafarers experience a safe and secure workplace that adheres to safety standards.

She said ship owners should also be held liable in case they neglected the threat of traversing high risk areas, such as the Gulf of Aden.

The bill covers 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 a 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 case of a maritime accident; and fair medical assessment, among others. (PNA)