Press Release
June 24, 2011

Legarda Bats for Better Services, Protection for Filipino Seafarers

In celebration of the Day of the Filipino Seafarer, Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her call for the institution of mechanisms that would ensure better protection and provision of necessary services for Filipino sea-based workers.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said it is essential to have a Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers (Senate Bill 1351) and establish a National Seafarers Commission (Senate Bill 1404) to address the specific concerns and needs of maritime workers.

"Filipino seafarers have been plying the world's seas for over five centuries. The advent of globalization led to the steady increase in the number of registered seafarers. In fact, about 28.1% of the world's maritime workers are Filipinos," she said.

She noted that Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) records show that there were only 36,035 seafarers deployed in 1975. In 2009, the number of Filipino sea-based workers deployed worldwide reached a total of 330,424.

"Filipino seafarers have been given inadequate attention in our society. Despite incidents of abduction, unjust compensation and on-board accidents that have been reported, no legislation has been passed to protect and uphold their rights. Most of the policies and programs catering to the needs of migrant workers are designed for the conditions and situation of land-based workers," the Senator stressed.

"We need to establish the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers that would guarantee their right to humane working conditions and just compensation through ensuring that manning and crewing agencies provide adequate information about on-board conditions as well as local and international laws that apply to the Filipino seafarer."

Legarda added that a National Seafarers Commission must be created to serve as the centralized government agency that will provide the necessary services, supervision, regulation and guidance the Filipino seafarer needs in order to develop as a globalized profession.

"Filipino maritime workers are important human resources of our country. We have to understand that the seafaring profession has unique demands and conditions, thus, we must guarantee that they will be given equal attention and protection by our government. Furthermore, we must ensure that our seafarers comply with the international requirements and maintain their edge over their foreign counterparts," Legarda concluded.

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