Senate approves law safeguarding seafarers’ rights

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MANILA, August 19, 2012—After six years of intensive campaign, and the persuasion of different maritime labor groups and institutions including the Roman Catholic Church, the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 is now ratified by the Philippine Senate.

In a statement sent to the CBCP News, the International Seafarers’ Action Center (ISAC), a Quezon City-based non-governmental organization that advocates maritime labor rights, said that the Senate concurred to the ratification of the MLC 2006 last August 13. ISAC, for a time, had partnered with the RCC’s Apostleship of the Sea, during its campaign with the MLC in 2008.

Early this year, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto had also appealed before the Philippine Government to immediately ratify and adopt the MLC 2006 to protect the rights of the Filipino mariners, sailing all over the world.

Calling it a fruit of the Filipino mariners’ collective struggles, ISAC hopes that the Philippines would transmit the ratified MLC 2006 documents to the International Labor Office in Geneva, making the Philippines the 30th country to ratify the instrument, which is called the “new bible” of maritime labor rights.

“We thank Sen. Loren B. Legarda for convincing her fellow lawmakers at the Senate to immediately ratify the Convention, which the seafarers and other stakeholders have been campaigning for the past six years,” ISAC secretary-general Atty. Joseph T. Entero said in a statement. Legarda is the chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

However, the seafarers’ rights advocates’ work is far from done, Entero said. On ISAC’s part, they would be closely monitoring the implementation of the MLC 2006, the maritime labor lawyer said.

“Our urgent task today is to amend the labor and maritime laws of the land and the POEA Standard Employment Contract to conform to this new convention,” Entero explained.

“We are keeping a close watch in its implementation as we did with the campaign in its ratification. We will not allow that the MLC 2006 would remain in paper, and will make it sure that every provision should be properly—and strictly—implemented as it means life and death to our 400,000 mariners sailing in different fleets, all over the world,” he added. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]



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