Press Release
September 7, 2021

Co-Sponsorship Speech
(September 7, 2021)
Committee Report No. 289
Senate Bill No. 2369



Good afternoon, Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

Mr. President, from the data released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, it is appalling that the number of Filipino seafarers that is deployed overseas plunges to 54% in 2020 which is equivalent to 217,223, in comparison to 469,996 in 2019. Furthermore, the Maritime Industry Authority or MARINA reported that there is also a 48% decline in the deployment of officers on international vessels corresponding to the 50,277 in 2022 and 97,400 in 2019. Same is true with the number of lower ranks, which is indicated to have dropped to 44% or 93,618, compared to 166,401 in 2019. Similarly, there is as well a 64% fall in the number of deployed staff in the non-maritime sector such as hotel staff for cruise ship and other passenger vessel. Only 73,328 were employed in 2020, compared to 206,195 before the pandemic strikes.[1]

Mr. President, it is for this reason that I stand this afternoon in support and honor to our Filipino seafarers who are employed or are waiting to be employed as I co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2369 under Committee Report No. 289 or the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers. Mr. President, like all other sectors and industries, this is a very unfortunate time for all our seafarers because of the effect of the imposition of strict lockdowns and border closures to international and domestic travel brought about by the Covid19 virus.

Mr. President, indeed that there is no better time to enact the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers but now. I would like to commend our very hardworking chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment, Senator Joel Villanueva, for doing an excellent job in advancing the welfare of our workers here and abroad. Mr. President, I am one in recognizing the important role of seafarers in the global trade and economy.

Unknown to many, according to the International Maritime Organization, about 90% of the world's food, fuel, raw materials, and manufactured goods are dispatched and transmitted by sea.[2]Seafarers perform one of the most challenging jobs of running gigantic cargo vessels and cruise ships, and sailing the wild and turbulent waters. It is high time they get the respect and importance that they deserve by enacting this legislation that will protect their welfare and promote their rights.

Mr. President, sa pamamagitan ng panukalang batas na ito, magkakaroon ng konkretong proteksiyon para sa mga Pilipinong seafarers na nasaan mang karagatan sa mundo.

As we fulfill our commitment under international conventions, specifically the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, our seafarers are safeguarded with all the basic rights to just terms and conditions of work, right to self-organization and engage in collective bargaining, right to educational advancement and training, right to information, right to safe passage and safe travel, right to consultation, right against discrimination, right to be protected against all forms of harassment and bullying, right to free legal representation, right to access communication, right to record of employment and certificate of employment, and right to fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident.

Batid natin ang dami ng problema ng ating mga kababayan mandaragat. Ang aking opisina ay saksi sa mga problemang ito sa dami ng aming natatangggap na mga sulat na nanghihingi ng ibat-ibang klase ng tulong. Nitong panahon ng pandemya, nagkaroon tayo ng pagkakataon na tumulong sa 75 na Filipino seafarers lulan ng M/V Horizon Pullmantor Crucerus na nadaong sa Port Al Rashid, Terminal 2, Dubai. Ang ilan sa mga seafarers na ito ay nag positibo sa COVID-19 virus habang nasa loob ng barko. Humingi sila ng tulong dahil sa kanilang nakapanlulumong sitwasyon at kulang na medikasyon habang nasa loob ng barko. Ang ilan sa mga ito ay natulungan nating ma-repatriate pabalik ng ating bansa.

This particular problem, Mr. President, is one of the many which the proposed measure seeks to address. Specifically, Section 41 of the bill provides for the protection of seafarers from epidemics, pandemics and other public health emergencies. In particular, seafarers are entitled to have access to prompt medical care, as well as access to medical facilities onshore and medical advice on physical and mental health. In addition, Section 50, thereof, specifically stipulates the provision of quarantine and medical expenses before or during repatriation because of infection, epidemics and pandemics.

Mr. President, alam kong mahirap tugunan lahat ng kinakaharap na problema ng ating mga seafarers. Ngunit, ang panukalang batas na ito ay isang malaking hakbang para sa katuparan na mabigyan ng mas maayos na buhay habang sila ay nagtatrabaho para sa kanilang mga pamilya.

As we are coming closer in passing this proposed measure, I hope that our kababayans are pleased to know that the government stands with them wherever they may be.

Maraming salamat po, Mr. President!

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