House Approves Bill Protecting Filipino Seafarer’s Rights on 2nd Reading
The House of Representatives approved the bill seeking to protect the right of Filipino sailors during the second reading through a voice vote on Wednesday, March 1.
The approved House Bill (HB) 7325 aims to shield the rights and welfare of seafarers. The HB also requires shipowners to provide accommodations and recreational facilities onboard ships.
The bill covers Filipino seafarers employed under board foreign-registered ships and international Philippine-registered ships. It does not include seafarers working in warships and naval auxiliaries, non-commercial government ships, ships of traditional build, and fishing vessels.
KABAYAN Party-list Rep. Ron P. Salo, one of the sponsors of the measure, stated to the plenary that shipowners are committed to “accommodate cadets equivalent to not less than 50% of the total number of their crew-complement, while cargo ships shall be required to accommodate cadets equivalent to not less than 30% of the total number of their crew-complement.”
Salo added, “This will directly address the shortage of training ships for our graduates which are around 25,000 to 30,000 annually.”
Section 23 of the HB reads, “The terms and conditions for employment of a seafarer shall be set out or referred to in a clearly written and legally enforceable standard employment contract (SEC). The SEC shall be agreed to by the seafarer under conditions which ensure that the seafarer has an opportunity to review and seek advice on the terms and conditions in the agreement and freely accepts them before signing. The SEC shall be understood to incorporate any applicable collective bargaining agreements.”
Aside from accommodations and recreational facilities onboard ships, the HB calls for sailors to be entitled to a safe and secure workplace, fair employment conditions, decent working and living conditions, medical care, and other forms of social protection. Shipowners are also expected to give seafarers affordable education and training.