Friday, February 14, 2014

Drilon, Angkla Partylist, maritime workers groups, hail quick passage of bill addressing seafarers’ welfare

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, Angkla partylist Rep. Jesulito A. Manalo, and various maritime workers’ groups hailed the Congress for its “decisive legislative action,” following the passage of a bill designating the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to watch over the welfare of 400,000 seafarers across the globe.

“I commend my colleagues from both houses, especially the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization headed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and and Angkla Rep. Manalo, who painstakingly worked hard to ensure that the bill would be passed without delay,” said Drilon.

Similarly, Drilon and Manalo thanked House Committee on Transportation chairman Rep. Cesar Sarmiento “for showing genuine concern to the thousands of Filipinos who have made their livelihood at the seas of the world."

“Their great prudence and resolve led to the passage of the measure which protects the employment of 80,000 Filipino seafarers based in Europe from losing their jobs,” added Drilon.

Senate Bill 2043 filed by Drilon and House Bill 3766 filed by Manalo were both approved on third and final reading last February 10.

For his part, Manalo said “the bill is of global importance, as it re-affirms the commitment of the Philippines, to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).” The IMO is a United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping, effectively serving as the overall governing body for world maritime affairs.

The European Union (EU) has earlier expressed its inclination to ban Filipino seafarers from EU-flagged vessels due to the country’s continued failure to demonstrate compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended (STCW Convention) –which the bill addresses and rectifies.

Meanwhile, the heads of various maritime institutions have expressed their gratefulness to the Senate President and Angkla Rep. Manalo “for what they consider a landmark event.” 

Capt. Gaudencio Morales, president of Philippine Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association, in a statement, stated that they are fully supportive of the bill and are grateful to Manalo and Drilon “in assisting the Filipino seafarers, particularly through proper implementation of the vital provisions of the STCW Convention.”

“We give our wholehearted support to Drilon’s and Angkla’s bill. This will certainly help Filipino seafarers to further advance their knowledge, expertise, and competency,” Capt. Hernando Eusebio, President of the Society of Filipino Ship Captains, said when asked for a comment.

The collective support from Congress and the industry resulted in the swift passage of the parallel bills in both the House of Representatives and Senate. “Once passed, this law ultimately ensures that the Filipinos remain the seafarers of choice in the world and will continue to move the world,” Manalo said.  

“The enactment of this law however, is merely an initial step towards the transformation envisioned by Angkla for the maritime industry,” the first-time lawmaker firmly remarked, “Rest assured that when the law is enacted, ANGKLA will be looking at MARINA more intently and make sure that they see that this is now an opportunity for them to rise up to the challenge of making the lives of our seafarers easier.”


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