MANILA, Sept. 21, 2011?The Philippine government should approve the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 to provide seafarers with employment security, a Vatican official said.
Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, in a statement said the Aquino government should understand the importance of approving the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention to ensure Filipino seafarers with fair employment practices.
The MLC 2006 is a consolidation of international laws that provide seafarers fair terms of employment and assure them of a safe, secure and decent living and working conditions on board a ship.
Considering that roughly 20% of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos, a law that would assure them protection and just treatment is crucial, the Vatican archbishop added.
Archbishop Veglio made the statement in time for the celebration of National Seafarers’ Day on Sept. 25.
The Vatican official said it is important for government and welfare agencies to work together in ensuring the protection of seafarers.
He also urged Filipino seafarers to work in union with maritime welfare agencies to boost its lobby at the government for the ratification of the two ILO conventions.
Aside from MLC 2006, the Seafarers’ Identity Document (SID) Convention 1958 (ILO 108) – C185 is also awaiting ratification from the government.
The country, being a non-signatory to the convention, has created many problems for Filipino seafarers in recent months especially in Brazil, where Filipino seafarers were not allowed to get onshore unless they have a visa.
Archbishop Veglio also called on the Apostleship of the Sea to bolster its services especially for seafarers who have been victimized by piracy attacks.
“It is of fundamental importance in this field that the AOS reinforces its national network and works in unity with other international organizations to propose itself as a welfare service provider to offer specific professional assistance to the victims of piracy and their families before, during and after the ordeal,” he said.
As of 16 Sept. 2011, the International Maritime Bureau has reported a total of 335 piracy attacks worldwide, with hijacking pegged at 35.
The Pontifical Council president also emphasized effective cooperation among local bishops, the AOS bishop promoter, the national director and all chaplains and volunteers of AOS Philippines “in managing resources and generating local funds to support different activities” for the welfare of seafarers.
On Sept. 25, the country will pay tribute to more than 300,000 Filipino seafarers and their families in a nationwide celebration of the 16th National Seafarers’ Day.
Themed Marinong Pilipino: Lakas ng Pagkakaisa (Philippine Seafarers: Strength in Unity), the celebration will be highlighted with a Eucharistic celebration at the Metropolitan Cathedral to be presided by Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales at 11:30 am.
Other activities also on Sept. 25 include an Ecumenical Memorial at Sea at 7 am and a grand parade at 9 am with 2,500 participants expected to attend. (CBCPNews)