Press Release
August 13, 2012

Senate concurs ratification of treaty protecting seafarers' rights

Filipino seafarers can expect better working conditions and fairer terms of employment with the approval of a resolution concurring in the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, an international treaty which seeks to protect the rights of seafarers worldwide. Sen. Loren Legarda, sponsor of Senate Resolution 829, said the proposed legislation provides "comprehensive rights and protection for about 400,000 domestic and international Filipino seafarers.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lauded the speedy concurrence of the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, saying that Filipino maritime seafarers are national heroes who contribute to the country's development.

"Last year, our seafarers accounted for 22 percent of the total foreign remittances from overseas Filipino or an equivalent of $4.3 billion. They are our modern day heroes that contribute to our national economy," Enrile said.

The treaty was approved on final reading today with 22 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and zero abstention with Enrile, Legarda, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto, Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Frank Drilon, T.G. Guingona, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Bongbong Marcos, Serge Osmeña, Kiko Pangilinan, Koko Pimentel, Raph Recto, Bong Revilla, Sonny Trillanes and Manny Villar giving the affirmative votes.

"The sea could be one of the most dangerous and harshest environments for workers. Industry and diligence do not assure seafarers of fair working conditions. Security of tenure is virtually nonexistent in many instances. Physical and psychological abuses are norms in some ships while decent working conditions escape hundreds of our seafarers," Legarda said.

The concurrence of the ratification of MLC 2006, she explained, would spur the modernization of shipping fleets to comply with international standards. It will also call governments to effectively enforce its regulatory role in ensuring safer and secure shipping, help prevent marine pollution and ensure decent work for seafarers.

"It will also erase ambiguity on the definition of seafarer as the Convention covers not just the crew involved in navigating or operating the ship but also other workers including cabin and cleaning personnel, bar staff, waiters, entertainers, singers, kitchen staff, casino personnel and estheticians - positions occupied by thousands of Filipinos in foreign vessels," Legarda added.

Filipino seafarers account for 30 percent of the 1.2 million seamen worldwide or about 400,000 domestic and international mariners. From 2008 to 2010, the number of Filipino seafarers deployed overseas increased by an average of 16 percent every year.

"MLC 2006 consolidates and updates, in one Convention, 68 international labor standards related to the Maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years. These cover the basic rights such the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation," Legarda said. (Pilar Macrohon, PRIB)

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