Press Release
May 22, 2023

CO-SPONSORSHIP SPEECH
Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers

(Committee Report No. 69, Senate Bill No. 2221)
May 22, 2023

Mr. President, it is with deep pride that I rise to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2221, under Committee Report number 69, of the Committee on Migrant Workers, joint with the Committees on Foreign Relations and Finance. Along with my co-authors and colleagues in this esteemed Congress, I warmly commend the Chairperson of the Committee on Migrant Workers, Senator Raffy Tulfo. Lubos akong nagpapasalamat kay Senator Tulfo, Mr. President, dahil sa kanyang walang sawang pagsuporta sa ating mga mandaragat.

A month from now, Mr. President, we are set to celebrate the Annual Day of the Seafarer, which will be on June 25. According to its stated purpose, this Day of the Seafarer was established "to recognize the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy, and civil society as a whole."[1]

Ang ganda po ng pagkasabi: to recognize the unique contribution of seafarers all over the world. And yet, according to a 2023 report of the Mission to Seafarers, there was a reported decline in the happiness levels of seafarers.[2] From 7.69 noong last quarter ng 2022, bumaba ito sa 7.1 para sa first quarter ng 2023. Seafarers across the globe are showing a sense of dissatisfaction, Mr. President. Dissatisfaction with inadequate food, bureaucratic demands and endless paperwork, connectivity problems, lack of health and wellness programs, and of course, the sense of social isolation.

This is why I believe that the sponsorship and shepherding of this important measure today is proof of two things: number one, this Senate's [commitment] to the well-being of our seafarers, and number two, this Senate's sense of good timing. A month ahead of the Annual Day of the Seafarer, here we are, Mr. President, pushing for the passage of a bill that institutionalizes the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

With the passage of this measure, we will be safeguarding our seafarers' basic rights and their welfare. We shall be protecting them in their employment, in their repatriation, and in their reintegration. We shall also ensure proper coordination of the DMW, the DFA, the OWWA, and other relevant government agencies for the full implementation of this measure.

Alam niyo po, Mr. President, marami po sa aking mga kababata ay mga marino. May iba sa kanila na tuluyan nang naging kapitan ng barko. We started out as young boys, who grew up to be men, carving out our own paths. They chose to chart the path of the sea.

Mr. President, alam ko po ang hirap ng buhay marino. Matagal kang mahihiwalay sa iyong pamilya, nasa gitna ka ng karagatan, minsan yung mga alon mas malalaki pa kaysa sa sinasakyan niyong barko. Tapos dito sa Pilipinas, ang bayan na iyong pinagsisilbihan, hindi man lang nakasaad kung ano ang iyong mga karapatan.

This is precisely why there is a need for this measure, Mr. President. It is high time for us to recognize the contribution of our seafarers, above and beyond merely assigning a day of every year to remember them. For an industry that accounts for 80% of international trade, our marine industry, along with the hundreds of thousands of Filipino seafarers, certainly deserves institutional and legislative attention.

Let us not wait for them to drown in the ocean of our inaction. Let us provide them with the rights and protection that they need, so that even when they are at sea, they may rest, knowing they shall be confidently coming back to a country they can truly call home. Ipasa na natin itong Magna Carta para sa kanila, Mr. President. Maraming salamat po.

_______________________________

[1] Retrieved from: https://www.imo.org/en/About/Events/Pages/Day-of-the-Seafarer-2023.aspx, retrieved on 22 May 2023.

[2] Retrieved from: https://www.missiontoseafarers.org/news/seafarers-happiness-index-q1-2023-reveals-a-decline-in-overall-satisfaction-levels-among-seafarers, retrieved on 22 May 2023.

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