Press Release
October 2, 2023

Senate approves Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers as Bong Go continues to champion migrant workers' welfare

In a crucial legislative move that marks a milestone for the Philippine maritime industry, the Senate has unanimously approved on third and final reading the Senate Bill institutionalizing the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, co-sponsor and one of the authors of the bill, lauded the approval as he continues to advocate for the welfare of Filipino seafarers. He described the Senate approval as a "triumph for our unsung heroes and a testament to the Senate's commitment to the welfare of our kababayans at sea."

"Today is a monumental day for our Filipino seafarers. They are the backbone of our maritime industry, and it's high time we recognize their sacrifices and contributions," said Go.

"Ang pag-apruba ng Magna Carta ay hindi lamang isang tagumpay sa lehislatura, kundi tagumpay para sa bawat Pilipinong seafarer at kanilang mga pamilya," he stressed.

The senator has been consistently pushing for the Magna Carta ever since he became a lawmaker, considering the need for clear guidelines and protection for seafarers given the risks that come with their profession from long working hours, limited rest periods, and health threats.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. previously certified the bill as urgent to expedite its legislative passage. A version of the bill has also already been passed in the House of Representatives.

"This Congress approval and the President's urgent certification are crucial steps in ensuring that our seafarers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve," added Go.

Go further highlighted the measure's impact in ensuring alignment of Filipino seafarers credentials with international standards, particularly in the European market.

"We cannot afford to lag behind in global maritime standards. This bill ensures that our seafarers are trained and accredited according to international norms," said Go.

It can be recalled that the European Maritime Safety Agency previously flagged the Philippines for not meeting international maritime safety standards.

"They can now look forward to better working conditions, healthcare services, and international opportunities," concluded Go.

Go's other efforts to champion the welfare of migrant workers have also materialized with the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers, the establishment of a dedicated OFW Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga during the Duterte administration, and the ongoing operations of a Malasakit Center in the said hospital.

Then president Rodrigo Duterte had signed Republic Act No. 11641 on December 2022, creating the DMW. The Senate version of the Act was authored and co-sponsored by Go.

Go currently filed Senate Bill No. 2297, which seeks to institutionalize the OFW hospital and secure its long-term operations such as needed funding, equipment and personnel, to better cater to the medical needs of OFWs and their families.

On the other hand, the Malasakit Center serves as a one-stop shop aimed at helping particularly poor and indigent patients minimize their medical expenses to the lowest amount possible by collaborating with various agencies offering medical assistance programs. This initiative was institutionalized under Republic Act No. 11463, a law principally authored and sponsored by Go in the Senate.

Presently, there are 159 Malasakit Centers spread across the country including one in the OFW Hospital. More than seven million Filipinos have benefitted from the program, as reported by DOH.

"Naisakatuparan po ang pangarap natin na magkaroon ng sariling departamento, ito pong Department of Migrant Workers. Co-sponsor po ako diyan at isa sa mga author... pangarap natin ito noon na naisakatuparan na. Ang pangarap natin magkaroon ng isang OFW hospital, naisakatuparan din. Hindi na po panaginip. Ngayon po, mayroon na rin po tayong Malasakit Center sa inyong OFW Hospital," he cited.

"Ipagpatuloy natin ang ating mga pagsisikap na maipaglaban ang karapatan at kapakanan ng ating mga itinuturing na bagong bayani. Mahirap mawalay sa pamilya para lang mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang mga anak. Kaya gawin natin ang lahat sa abot ng ating makakaya na suportahan sila bilang pagkilala sa kanilang kontribusyon sa ating bansa, nasaan man sila sa mundo," he added.

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