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Protecting our seafarers
WESTERN Visayas is a major supplier of competent and able seafarers, according to Regional Director Mary Ann Armi Arcilla of the Maritime Industry Authority. Her office sees to it that Ilonggo seafarers comply with international requirements and maintain their edge over their foreign counterparts.
Generally, however, the Filipino seafarers’ welfare has been given inadequate attention. Despite incidents of abduction, unjust compensation and on-board accidents, no legislation has been passed to protect and uphold their rights. Most of the policies and programs catering to the needs of migrant workers are designed for land-based workers only.
Due to the sheer number of Filipino seafarers that help keep our economy afloat with their dollar remittances, it is but proper that we institutionalize mechanisms that provide better protection of their rights and welfare.
Various policies to protect the welfare of our seafarers are scattered in numerous existing laws. This indicates a need for a more comprehensive legislation that will cover all these provisions, while at the same time complying with international maritime standards.
We don’t even have a magna carta for seafarers yet that would guarantee their right to humane working conditions and just compensation through ensuring that manning and crewing agencies provide adequate information about on-board conditions as well as local and international laws that apply to Filipino seafarers.
It also helps to have a centralized government agency that will provide the necessary services, supervision, regulation and guidance which our Filipino seafarers need.
Filipino maritime workers are important human resources. We have to understand that the seafaring profession has unique demands and conditions, thus, we must guarantee that they are given equal attention and protection.