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Cebu News

Shipowners thank Marcos

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The members of the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association, Inc. (PCS) expressed their gratitude to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for listening to them and not signing the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers Bill, which caused the House of Representatives and the Senate to withdraw the enrolled bill for further review.

The House of Representatives cited jurisdiction for withdrawing the bill, but the group said that the more important issue with the said bill is the application of the provisions of Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 (MLC 2006) and the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention (STCW Convention) for international seafarers to the domestic shipping industry.

“We respectfully submit that the application of MLC 2006 and the STCW Convention to domestic shipping will cause the collapse of the domestic shipping industry and eventually kill the seafaring profession,” the group said.

The bill seeks to implement MLC 2006 which apply to international trade vessels and Filipino seafarers aboard foreign ships overseas. The group said that the application of MLC 2006 provisions is harmful to the domestic shipping industry as it requires specific criteria for crew accommodations, quarters, and recreation facilities which could not be complied with by the members of the association who are operators of small-and medium-sized ships.

In fact, several traditional maritime countries such as Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Greece, and Australia are not applying the provisions of the MLC 2006 to their vessels with domestic routes due to their incompatibility with and unreasonable application to their domestic shipping industry.

These countries have adopted separate policies for ships that navigate exclusively in their inland and territorial waters with policies varying from MLC 2006.

“As far as we know, no other country implements this MLC 2006 to their domestic fleet. The provisions of the Magna Carta which more often than not refers to the provisions of MLC 2006, which when applied to domestic shipping will cause shipowners to spend for the reconfiguration of the existing vessels,” part of their statement read.

The group added that the addition of accommodation, recreational facilities and other requirements under MLC 2006 will not only cause additional expenses but would affect revenues which will eventually bankrupt the domestic shipping industry.

It said that until today all brand-new ships imported from China and Japan to the Philippines for use in domestic local trade are not MLC 2006-compliant and that foreign shipyards only build MLC 2006-compliant ships for oceangoing international trade.

The proposed magna carta likewise requires government agencies such as the Commission on Higher Education, Maritime Industry Authority, and the Technical Education and Skills Development to adopt and implement stringent maritime education, training, and certification in accordance with the STCW Convention for all Filipino seafarers without distinction as to whether they will be working in domestic or international shipping.

The proposed magna carta also elevates the status of the apprentice mates and cadets to seafarers, adding to the accommodation, recreational facilities, and other requirement under MLC 2006.

“This would drastically reduce the number of apprentices presenting on board simply because it is not doable. Moreover, the shipping companies are required to hire Shipboard Training Officers in the vessels in which cadets are deployed adding to the operating expense of the shipowners and shipping operators,” the group said.

They added that the proposed magna carta puts an additional burden to the already overburdened domestic shipping industry.

They clarified that they are not opposed to protecting Filipino seafarers, but oppose the reckless application of international standards like the MLC 2006 and the STCW Convention on the domestic shipping industry. (CEBU NEWS)

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