Senate passes Marina bill to protect 400,000 seafarers-A A +A
Monday, February 10, 2014
THE Senate on Monday approved the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) or the Marina Bill in order to protect the welfare of Filipino seafarers and to strengthen the country's foothold on the maritime manpower industry.
Senate Bill 2043 streamlines all administrative functions pertaining to the training and certification of over 400,000 Filipino seafarers to
The bill was passed on third and final reading with 21 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and zero abstention.
The measure was filed amid reports of an impending blacklisting by the European Union (EU), which could leave about 80,000 Filipino seafarers jobless.
The potential ban is due to the Philippines’ failure to demonstrate full and complete compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended (STCW Convention).
Senate President Franklin Drilon, principal author of the bill, said that the enactment of the measure into law “will make the country’s policies on maritime administration aligned with the standards stipulated in the STCW Convention.”
The Senate chief said he expects the bill to be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III by the end of the month.
Under the bill, Marina is designated as the single maritime administrative agency empowered to enforce the STCW Convention and to carry out an effective regulatory framework conducive to the efficiency, transparency, and competitiveness of the Philippine seafaring industry.
Such functions had been previously exercised by the Professional Regulation Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, National Telecommunications Commission, and the Department of Health.
Drilon noted that the swift passage of the bill will be relevant in light of the finalization of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit report on the state of Philippine’s maritime administration, which is to be released anytime soon.
“With the passage of the bill, we can now say that our country is taking broad efforts to maintain our compliance with the STCW Convention, thus averting any need for the EU to proceed with their ban on our workers,” he said.
He said that by averting the ban, the Philippines also gets to avoid the abrupt loss of income for thousands of seafarers and their families.
Filipino seafarers' remittances amounted to nearly $5 billion in 2012 alone, he noted.
Drilon said that the bill's passage ensures the country's compliance and assures that the skills of our seafarers are properly honed through continuous training and updating of the curriculum to be administered by Marina.
The measure guarantees the continued employment of our seafarers, he said.
The bill would also protect the country's position in the seafarer industry, where according to Drilon, the Filipino seafarer is favored.
“The passage of this bill affirms the government’s concern for the welfare of our seafarers, and we hope that it shows the rightful acknowledgment of the invaluable contribution of our maritime workers in the national economy, and the country’s overall reputation in the global market,” he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)