Romualdez to seafarers: Congress will ensure your welfare, help maritime industry grow

As published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 23, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has assured seafarers that Congress and the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. would take steps to promote their welfare while steering the maritime industry toward growth and development.

Romualdez, during the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Expo at the CCP Complex in Pasay City on Friday said that they are looking to create an environment where the maritime industry is able to grow.


“Under President Marcos’ leadership, we are committed to fostering an enabling environment that promotes the welfare of seafarers, supports the growth of the maritime industry, and advances sustainable practices,” he said.

“One of the significant milestones that we intend to achieve in President Marcos’ tenure is the enactment of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” Romualdez said.

The House of Representatives, under Romualdez’s leadership, has passed House Bill No. 7325, or the proposed Magna Carta of Seafarers bill, on third and final reading last March 6.

It is still being deliberated in the Senate before the session went into a sine die adjournment last May 31.

Romualdez said that the Magna Carta ensures workplace fairness and continuous employee development.

“It ensures fair and just working conditions provides for reasonable compensation, guarantees access to quality healthcare and education, and promotes the welfare of seafarers and their families. This legislation stands as a testament to President Marcos’ dedication to creating a conducive environment for seafarers to thrive,” he said.

“By empowering seafarers with the necessary knowledge and skills, we not only enhance their professional capabilities but also ensure the sustained growth and competitiveness of our maritime sector,” he added.

This is not the first time that Romualdez assured seafarers about the passage of the Magna Carta bill.

As early as December 2022, the House Speaker told an audience of maritime school graduates in Bataan that the bill would be passed and enacted since it is part of President Marcos’ priority legislation and the House and Senate’s common legislative agenda.


However, there are fears that many seafarers may opt to resign or retire if the House version is passed due to an escrow provision under the bill’s Section 51.

During the deliberations on the said bill, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas asked the bill sponsor and Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo about Section 51 of the bill, which provided that monetary awards given through an arbiter—like the National Labor Relations Commission—to a seafarer disabled in the line of work would be held in escrow if the employer disputes it.

Brosas said she feared seafarers, who need the money for their disability, would be held hostage by the provision because the seafarer couldn’t get the award until legal proceedings are completed.

Salo, however, replied that payment of disability claims would be given, adding that the amount to be disputed — or claims that would go beyond the worker’s tenure, possibly due to inability to work other jobs — would be the one to be held in escrow.

Last May 30, Association of Licensed Manning Agencies chairman Iris Baguilat said that more than P2.5 billion worth of claims awarded by the NCMB alone from 2018 to 2022 had been reversed by either the CA or Supreme Court — which shows the possibility of more disputes and more funds being held in escrow.