A MAGNA Carta for Filipino seafarers has been proposed in the House of Representatives; Rep. Emmeline Aglipay of DIWA Party-list made the proposal under her House Bill 4714 which tasks the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), upon consultation with concerned maritime sectors, to determine the minimum terms and conditions of a standard employment contract for seafarers in accordance with internationally accepted maritime standards and practice.
Too, ship owners will be required to ensure that all seafarers working on the ship can easily obtain on board information on the general conditions of employment; a copy of the seafarers’ employment contract will then be made available and accessible to representatives of the competent authority of the ports to be visited by the ship.
Per the Shipping and Seafaring Industry of the Philippines, the country has an estimated pool of about 700,000 seafarers; of this number, 400,000 are deployed on ships of Philippine registry and about 330,424 are working in foreign companies.
Thus, Filipino seafarers constitute 30 percent of the world merchant marine fleet, contributing slightly more than $3 billion of foreign exchange earnings through inward dollar remittances.
“The bill will bolster government efforts to stop unscrupulous recruiters from victimizing Filipinos seeking jobs overseas; it is high time that a proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers be enacted into law considering the contribution of the shipping industry and seafarers to world trade,” Aglipay said.
Moreover, Aglipay’s bill prohibits the ship owner to require an advance payment for the cost of a seafarer’s repatriation at the beginning of his employment or from recovering said cost from his wages or other entitlements except when a seafarer is discharged for just cause, requests for an early termination of his contract or due to delay or detour other than the most direct route to the point of hire.