Press Release
February 1, 2014

Drilon: Thousands of seafarers to lose jobs without MARINA bill

At least 80,000 Filipino seafarers are at risk of losing their jobs if loopholes and inefficiencies in the current system governing the country's administration of maritime workers are not addressed, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said today.

Drilon, who sponsored Senate Bill No. 2043 which seeks to introduce major structural changes to the maritime regulatory system, reiterated the urgency of the bill "in order to avert an impending ban on Filipino seafarers by the European Union" due chiefly to the country's continuous failure to demonstrate its compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended (STCW Convention).

The Senate chief said the Congress has to act fast before the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) completes its latest audit report that will determine if the Philippines is indeed in conformity to the STCW Convention.

SB No. 2043 specifically seeks to establish a single maritime administration, which will be the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), that will be tasked with overseeing the training and certification of Filipino seafarers, and ensuring that these follow international standards based on the STCW Convention.

The Senate leader said that SBN 2043 "requires immediate legislative attention" so that the country may "fully avoid the socio-economic consequences of a blacklist by the European Union to our maritime workers."

The European Union (EU) has earlier expressed its inclination to ban Filipino seafarers from EU-flagged vessels, blaming the country's unsatisfactory and incomplete compliance to the STCW Convention.

"I am informed that around 80,000 Filipino workers will eventually lose their jobs if such a ban is implemented by the European Union," Drilon explained.

"Worse, if other countries follow the EU's move, at least 300,000 more workers around the globe -and their families- would lose their precious livelihood," Drilon warned.

He added that the damages won't be felt by the seafarers and their families alone. "The country will lose billions of pesos from sea-based workers remittances which have aided the economy by fueling domestic consumption and preventing foreign exchange instability," said Drilon. He noted that seafarers' remittances reached nearly $5 billion in 2012.

Aside from aligning our maritime system with the international standards and addressing inefficiencies in the current system, Drilon said that the passage of the bill will also "bring improvement in the skills and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers."

"It is high time that we protect the welfare of the thousands of Filipino seafarers around the world. Our seafarers have better skills, character and education than many workers from other nations. We have to make sure that our policies match their excellence, in order to harness their full potential," he concluded.

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