In a statement, Estrada stressed the near banning of Filipino seafarers from working on European Union-flagged vessels has made timely the passage of the enabling law that will protect the rights and welfare of seafarers by giving them a higher standards of learning.
Estrada underscored the significance of the approval of the proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.
“Sa pamamagitan ng panukalang batas na ito, inaasahan nating maiiwasan ang ganitong mga problema, at sa halip ay lalo pang mai-angat ang kalidad ng serbisyo ng ating mga marino na siyang batayan ng respeto, paghanga at pati na rin ng mataas na demand para sa kanila sa international maritime industry,” said Estrada, principal author and co-sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2221.
The lawmaker, who had been advocating for the passage of the measure since the 16th Congress and the first to file a bill way back in 2013, was referring to the averted crisis – the non-hiring of new Filipino seafarers in EU member-states and the displacement of around 50,000 currently deployed in the region.
The near disaster was due to the country’s repeated failure to pass the European Maritime Safety Agency evaluation since 2006.
Early last year, the EU flagged the Philippines for deficiencies in local seafarers’ training and education and urged the government to improve its efforts to comply with the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention.
EU threatened to withdraw recognition of Filipino seafarers’ qualifications in EU flag-carrying vessels if the issues it raised years ago remain unresolved.
Fortunately, this year, the EU Commission announced its decision to continue recognizing the safety certifications issued by the Maritime Industry Authority after noting the efforts of the Philippines in complying with the requirements, particularly in key areas such as monitoring, supervision, and evaluation of training and assessment.
It likewise noted the Philippines is one of the world’s largest maritime labor supply countries.
“Ang malaking bilang ng mga Pilipinong marino ay patunay na kailangan talaga nating isabatas ang Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers sa lalong madaling panahon upang siguruhin ang proteksiyon ng kanilang karapatan at kapakanan,” Estrada said.
“The passage of the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers is long overdue. Once enacted into law, it will be another landmark legislation that will benefit our kababayans – the seafarers and their families – and our economy as a whole,” he stressed.