Seafarers returning from abroad who have just undergone quarantine are discharged from the COVID-19 field hospital in Quirino Grandstand, Manila, in 2022. (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee's report on the proposed Magna Carta of Philippine seafarers during its plenary session.

The report is a reconciled version of the divergent provisions of Senate Bill No. 2221 and House Bill No. 7325.

“Just a little more and this Magna Carta of Filipino seafarers will have concluded its long and turbulent journey. It is ready to return to our beloved Filipino sailors and be a beacon for their journeys,” said Senator Raffy Tulfo, chairman of the House panel on migrant workers.

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According to Tulfo, the highlights of the reconciled report are as follows:

  • In the proposed annual leave, bicam members agreed to a commitment of 3.5 calendar days per month of employment for Filipino seafarers.
  • The Senate also approved the Chamber's version that institutionalizes onboard training that will be regulated and monitored by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
  • Bicam members also created a provision on the execution of the judgment and the monetary award, according to which the winning party would be guaranteed the refund of the contested monetary award in the event of a reversal in the appeal.

“The bicam version that provides for bail for the disputed portion is a response to the problem of an unrefunded amount of P2.57 billion when the cases are reversed in favor of the shipowners. This is too substantial to ignore,” Tulfo said.

According to Tulfo, in the bicam version, the deposit will only be provided for the contested portion of the prize. This means that if a seafarer wins his case, he will be reimbursed for the costs of setting up the bond.

“This is the win-win solution formulated by the agency,” he said.

Tulfo then proposed ratification of the commission's report. Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva supported Tulfo's motion.

Without objections from the senators present, the report of the bicameral conference committee on the Magna Carta of Seafarers was approved and ratified by the Senate.


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