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Hontiveros urges Congress to pass Magna Carta for Seafarers

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday pushed for more comprehensive reintegration programs and free legal assistance to Filipino seafarers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros said seafarers deserve better protections as they deal with this difficult moment for the global maritime industry.

“We have long needed a strong legal framework for Pinoy seafarers that can safeguard their rights and interests wherever they may be,” Hontiveros said during the Senate labor and employment committee hearing.

“This is especially true during this pandemic, since thousands of our sea-based workers are more vulnerable to illegal termination, decreased or unpaid salaries, unsafe working conditions and other forms of abuses,” the senator said.

Hontiveros said Congress should immediately pass Senate Bill No. 357 or the proposed Magna Carta for Seafarers which mandates comprehensive reintegration programs, free legal assistance and other workplace protections for Filipino seafarers that will help them better cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passage of the bill into law will enable government to help the thousands of Filipino maritime workers whose livelihood was badly hit by the effects of the pandemic on global markets.

The bill also seeks a comprehensive package of reforms to the legal framework regulating the maritime labor industry so the rights and welfare of seafarers are better protected before, during, and after deployment.

“We have long needed a strong legal framework for Pinoy seafarers that can safeguard their rights and interests wherever they may be,” Hontiveros said.

Citing government data, Hontiveros said there are at least 49,655 seafarers who lost their jobs and were forced to return to the country due to COVID-19.

“Hindi lang sila ang apektado, kundi pati ang kanilang mga pamilya (They’re not the only ones affected, that also includes their family). We should have a program that is ready to help them get back on their feet at the soonest,” she said.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/25/hontiveros-urges-congress-to-pass-magna-carta-for-seafarers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hontiveros-urges-congress-to-pass-magna-carta-for-seafarers)

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