Drilon: Marina bill to save 400,000 seafarer jobs

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Monday, February 3, 2014

SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Monday hailed the passage on second reading of Senate Bill 2043 or the Marina Bill.

Drilon, who is also the bill's sponsor, said the measure proposes to create a single maritime administration to oversee the training and certification of about 400,000 Filipino seafarers across the globe.

"The passage of this bill demonstrates a serious effort on the part of the Philippine government to overhaul its policies concerning our seafarers and make them aligned with the international standards," he said.


The Senate chief cited reports coming from the European Union (EU) that a ban on Filipino seafarers on board EU-flagged vessels is being considered because of the unsatisfactory and incomplete compliance by the country to the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended, or the STCW Convention.

Drilon said that the backlash from an EU ban will affect not just the seafarers and their families but the entire country who will surely lose billions of pesos from sea-based workers' remittances which has aided the economy by fueling domestic consumption and preventing foreign exchange instability

Seafarers' remittances reached nearly $5 billion in 2012.

Drilon said that around 80,000 Filipino workers may eventually lose their jobs if such a ban is implemented by the European Union, and put at risk some 300,000 more Filipino seafarers around the globe if other countries follow the EU's move.

Senate Bill 2043 seeks to make the Marina as the single maritime administration in the country, tasked with overseeing the training and certification of Filipino seafarers, and ensuring that these follow international standards based on the STCW Convention.

Drilon also commended his colleagues for acting swiftly on the proposed measure, which he described as "a very urgent measure" to evade a looming blacklist from the European Union (EU) 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).

"Let us not wait for the impending ban to commence, which will cost our country even more in terms of resources and efforts," Drilon stressed.

The Senate President said the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)’s latest audit report that will determine if the Philippines is taking steps to align its policies governing administration of seafarers with the STCW Convention is due to be released anytime soon.

The Senator warned that aside from debilitating socio-economic damages, the potential blacklisting by foreign entities will be "a shameful smear to our country's pride and reputation that we must dutifully strive to avoid."

"The country will lose billions of pesos from sea-based workers' remittances, which have aided the economy by fueling domestic consumption and preventing foreign exchange instability," he said.

In 2012, seafarers’ remittances reached nearly $5 billion in 2012, he noted.

"Given their significant contributions to keep our economy afloat, our country's maritime workers deserve proactive government action," he said.

Earlier, Drilon called for the swift passage of the bill "in order to avert impending ban on 80,000 Filipino seafarers by the European Union."

Aside from aligning our maritime system with the international standards and addressing inefficiencies in the current system, the passage of the bill would also assure that the skills and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers are harnessed, he concluded. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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