Senator Cynthia A. Villar has expressed full support to Senate Bill No. 2369 under Committee Report No. 289–the “Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers” while acknowledging the seafarers significant contributions to the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The trade of food, necessary medicines, medical supplies and equipment, and other essentials are facilitated with the continuous toil and sacrifice of our seafarers on board various cargo vessels,” said Villar.
“And their contributions and work as seafarers are highlighted, especially now while we are at a pandemic,” she said.
In fact, she related the seafarers aboard cruise ships were among the first to be affected by the COVID virus, and yet they continue to venture with their work hazards.
Because of this, Villar underscored the need to give our seafarers all the protection they need.
The Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, Villar said, will guarantee the protection of their rights, and the standards to be followed on their employment terms and conditions.
It will also afford a system to provide for their financial security and a mechanism to protect their health and welfare in case of pandemic and monitor the crucial role of certain government agencies like MARINA, DOLE, CHED, PCG tasked to protect them and improve the maritime industry.
She likewise said the legislative measure will also guarantee the much-needed mechanism ensuring women protection and empowerment in the maritime industry. She stressed that women, in a male-dominated maritime industry, are exposed or vulnerable to sexual harassment and violence.
“It is no secret that Filipinos are the preferred seafarers in the world. This is due to the innate ability of Filipinos to cope up with marine life, being hardworking, dedicated to work, flexible, cheerful, being highly trainable and fluent in English,” said Villar, adding that 25% of all seafarers in the world are Filipinos.
According to Villar, the Filipino seafarers, comprising a chunk of our beloved OFWs, have always been close to her family. She said it has always been the advocacy of her family to serve them.
“That is why, may I share with you here, that we have devoted a family-owned facility, The Villar Tent in C5 Las Piñas, as well as medical personnel for the vaccination of our seafarers against COVID,” she said.
With the coordination of MARINA and the Las Piñas General Hospital, Villar said they have so far vaccinated 10,000 seafarers.