Emphasizing the need for ethical treatment of Filipino seafarers around the world, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III called on stakeholders to uphold the Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers prescribed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labor Organization (ILO).
This after the Department of Labor and Employment, together with the Seafarer’s Rights International (SRI), led a regional meeting with maritime industry stakeholders and came up with the Manila Statement on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident.
According to SRI, an international pan-industry body researching maritime and seafarers’ law, it is an inherent risk in the working lives of seafarers that they may be subjected to criminal charges either of a professional or a non-professional nature, simply from carrying out their duties. This was affirmed during the regional meeting.
The Manila Statement aims to raise awareness; develop further education, training, and human capacity; and extend and develop cooperation among stakeholders on the proper and effective implementation of the IMO and ILO guidelines.
The guidelines, which are voluntary, do not seek to interfere with any State’s domestic, criminal, or civil law. Instead, they balance the rights and obligations of stakeholders to whom the Guidelines are addressed, namely port and coastal states, flag states, the seafarers’ states, ship-owners, and seafarers.
“Given the unique characteristics of the Philippines as a flag and a labor supplying State, and with the cooperation of all Asian nations through your representations, we can make the guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers as enshrined in the Manila Declaration on the Protection of Seafarers a success,” said DOLE Secretary Bello.
Among the recommendations during the meeting are for member states to honor and commit to enforce legal agreements and instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), IMO Resolutions, among others; raise awareness on the fair treatment of seafarers at local, regional, and international levels; identify best practices that promote safety and well-being of seafarers; and better data management and information sharing.
Other recommendations are the amendment of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and the enactment of the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers.
Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI, said that the announcement of the Manila Statement on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers is a crucial step in the fight to raise awareness over the fair treatment of seafarers.
Meanwhile, Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation, welcomed the Manila Statement and called for the creation of an implementation plan to roll out the agreements and ensure that every seafarer feels the benefits of what has been discussed in the meeting.
Attended by delegates from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Brunei and Indonesia, tripartite partners, shipping industry representatives, academe, international organizations, resident ambassadors, and Philippine government officials, the regional meeting is a follow-through to the Workshop on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers held at the International Maritime Organization last June 23, 2017 in London.
As of 2015, out of the 1.5 million seafarers worldwide, a total of 406,531 are Filipinos. END/aldm