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PROMOTE the rights of seafarers against abusive employers and unfair placement agencies.
This is the call of Stella Maris Philippines on the occasion of Sunday of the Sea, which is celebrated on the second Sunday of July every year.
A seafarer’s job is not exactly a walk in the park. A ship is often recognized as a high risk workplace. The industry remains fraught with health and safety hazards that increase seafarers’ risk of accidents, illness and death,
Sunday at Sea is set by many Christian Churches as an international day of remembrance, prayer and celebration, and an opportunity to thank the sailors and fishermen who work tirelessly throughout the year to bring us more than ninety percent of the things we need.
“We welcome the significant and valuable contribution of our seafarers. They are our front liners, living channels for economic development, for cultural progress and human advancement,” said the statement released by Stella Maris Philippines.
Stella Maris is the missionary work of the Catholic Church to the people of the sea, especially to seafarers, whether they are on merchant, passenger, war or fishing vessels.
Stella Maris added that the things we use, patronize or give do not come to us quickly, immediately. “Everyone and everything has patience, endurance and performance. There are always sacrifices and services rendered. We can say that blood, sweat and tears have been shed. And this is from our sailors and dock workers; builders and ship owners; and our coast guards and port officials.”
It added: “The ocean connects people. The ocean provides life and sustenance. Sea transport, move everything and everyone around the world. “
The Philippines is considered a major supplier of maritime labor worldwide as it is estimated that there is one Filipino seafarer for every four to five ship complements at any given time.
The Filipino seafarers deployed in 2022 reached 489,852 with equivalent dollar remittances amounting to $6,715,880,000.
In terms of deployment, records from the Department of Migrant Workers and Statista show that the total number of Filipino seafarers deployed abroad reached 376,663 in 2017; 337,502 in 2018; 469,996 in 2019; 217,223 in 2020; 345.52 in 2021; and 489,852 in 2022.
Remittances in the sea-based sector comprise at least 22 percent of the total OFW dollar remittances.
Records from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show remittances to the sea-based sector in the past six years: $6,870,827,000 in 2017; $6,139,512,000 in 2018; $6,539,246,000 in 2019; $6,353,522,000 in 2020; $6,545,002,000 in 2021; and $6,715,880,000 by 2022.
The data shows that remittances increased in 2018 by $731,315,000; then increased in 2019 to $399,734,000; then decreases in 2020 by $185,724,000; then increases in 2021 to $191,480,000; then increases in 2022 to $172,878,000.
“We see with grateful hearts their services, their sacrifices and their families,” said Stella Maris.
Besides Sunday at Sea, other events are held to honor seafarers including World Day of Seafarers and National Seafarers’ Day (NSD).
In 2010, the Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) adopted a resolution establishing Seafarer’s Day every June 25.
The Philippines also celebrates NSD every last Sunday of September every year. Masses and prayers for the safe sailing of sailors are a traditional part of the annual NSD, celebrated through Proclamation 828 issued on July 9, 1996 declaring August 18 as NSD. It was later moved to the last Sunday of September every year by Proclamation 1094.
The purpose of the NSD is to give due recognition to the important role of Filipino seafarers in the development of the Philippines as a maritime country.
Stella Maris is tasked with coordinating the public and private sectors for NSD activities.
A pending law that stakeholders are looking forward to is the passage of the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers.
The proposed Magna Carta seeks to implement the standards set by MLC2006 to ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino seafarers by recognizing their rights, creating and implementing mechanisms.
Magna Carta should be for Filipino Seafarers, not for those who the law seeks to protect them from abuses and violations of their rights.
The magna carta should expand, and not limit, the rights of seafarers.
A provision that harms the cause of a seafarer in any way or nature has no place in a legal document that is for their protection in the first place.
The looming Magna Carta is the translation into reality of the wisdom of President Magsaysay.: “He who has less in life must have more in law” .
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