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The Philippines’ House of Representatives voted for a bill that seeks to protect the rights and interests of Filipino seafarers, ensuring that they have “full protection”.

The law called Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers sets out labor protection terms for seafarers before, during, and after employment, especially in the event of maritime accidents, epidemics or pandemics, or other natural or man-made crises.

Voting 304 against 4, the chamber overwhelmingly voted to pass House Bill (HB) No. 7325, shortly titled “Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” which also aims to develop a pool of competent and world-class seafarers “through a system of education, training, certification, and licensing.”

Our seafarers are our unsung heroes. Almost 400,000 of them are on board merchant shipping vessels around the world at any given time. They are not only a source of income for the country through their remittances but also a source of pride.
..said Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez.

Provisions of HB 7325 cover Filipino seafarers “who are employed or engaged or work in any capacity on board foreign-registered ships and Philippine-registered ships operating internationally.”

Read More: Philippines Outlines New Initiatives to Improve Seafarer Training

According to the measure, Filipino seafarers have a right to:

  • Safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards.
  • Fair terms and conditions of employment.
  • Decent working and living conditions on board a ship.
  • Health protection, welfare measures, medical care.
  • Self-organization.
  • Information about seafarer’s family.
  • Against discrimination.
  • Educational advancement and training.
  • Relevant information.
  • Free legal representation.
  • Appropriate grievance mechanism.
  • Access to communication.
  • Fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident.
  • Fair medical assessment.

The bill mandates that the standard employment contract, or SEC, shall be reviewed and approved by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to ensure that the contract stipulations adhere to or protects the rights of seafarers as laid down in the measure.

The health, safety, security, and welfare of most seafarers were compromised the lawmakers said during the pandemic. In addition, to the challenges created during the pandemic, Filipino seafarers are reported to have also borne the brunt of sea slavery. Specifically, long-haul fishing is cited as being notorious for crew exploitation and deplorable living conditions.

“Seafarers shall be entitled to adequate compensation in the case of injury, loss or unemployment arising from the ship’s loss or foundering, in accordance with the SEC or the CBA (collective bargaining agreement),” the bill reads.


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Issue 84 of Robban Assafina

(March/ April 2023)


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