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Amendments to the maritime labor treaty will help PH seamen.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is one of the countries that will profit considerably from changes to many sections of the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said these revisions, which were adopted during the recently finished International Labor Convention (ILC) in Switzerland, are relevant because the country is sending thousands of seafarers to work overseas, according to a Laging Handa briefing.

“There are eight sections that have been changed, the most crucial of which is the repatriation provision,” he explained.

According to Benavidez, the modification requires the ship owner and its agent to arrange for the repatriation of a seafarer who has been ill, been in an accident, or whose contract has expired or been canceled.

“Bring him back to the Philippines if he’s a Filipino,” he urged.

The mariners were also given free internet access, according to Benavidez, so they could interact with their families or loved ones.

“We have also revised provisions on access to information as a result of our experience with the (coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.” Because seafarers require connectivity to their families during the lockdown, he said, “We make your access to internet communication obligatory while he is aboard the ship.”

Another key change is the mariners’ right to appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE).

“Because Filipinos are formed differently, the size of the PPE worn by our fellow sailors who operate on ships and cargo vessels appears to be just perfect,” he added.

Similarly, according to Benavidez, mariners are given priority in terms of basic needs such as food, lodging, and water.

“These are lessons we gained during the lockdown and pandemic, and we have to revise the Maritime Labor Convention as a result of those experiences so that we may better safeguard and promote the welfare of our Filipino seafarers.” We voted in support of these amendments as well,” he continued.

The ILC was held in Geneva from May 27 to June 11.

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