Dec
8

Filipino Seafarers Protection Act

BY DONNA WILLIAMS  |  POSTED IN CREW MANAGEMENT

We are pleased to advise that the Seafarers Protection Act (Republic Act 10706) was signed into law by the President of the Philippines on 26 November 2015.

What does this mean for Filipino Seafarers?

Its main role is to protect them from unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of them by charging exorbitant fees and promising huge returns should they suffer an accident or illness while under their employment contract.

Such fees "should not exceed 10% of the compensation or benefit awarded to the seafarer or his heirs."

This refers directly to cases filed for recovery of a monetary claim or benefit; ether at the National Labour Relations Commission (NLRC), National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) or the Department of Labour and Employment.

Individuals or groups found to have charged seafarers excessively can now look forward to a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of P100,000.  The same penalty will apply to every person to have conspired in this legal act.

In a statement from the Government:

"The Government has observed that some individuals or groups have exploited the compensation system and seafarers have fallen prey to an unfair scheme where 'ambulance chasers' charge exorbitant fees with the promise of huge monetary award.  Toward this end, such practice shall be declared unlawful."

The new law is a combination of Senate Bill 2835 that senators approved on 21 September, and House Bill 5268, which the lawmakers passed on 30 September and President Aquino signed into law on 26 November 2015.

Specifically, it is a law against 'ambulance chasing' and imposition of excessive fees on Filipino seafarers where it shall be "unlawful" for any person to solicit, personally or through an agent, from seafarers the pursuit of any claim against their employers for the purpose of recovery of monetary claim, legal interest included, arising from accident, illness or death. 

In a press statement issued by ANGKLA, Representative Jesulito A. Manalo proclaimed....

President Benigno Aquino's signing of Republic Act 10706 is another major feat for the Filipino seafarers that he represents in Congress.  "Two months following our election in 2013, we started our quest for the protection of seafarers' rights, particularly with respect to their monetary claims so the recent passage of this law is truly a legislative milestone for the seafaring sector."

In a national scale, Filipino seafarers onboard international fleets have greatly contributed to the Country's social and economic progress so that in 2014 alone, their contributions amounted to US$5.6 billion out of the US$24.3 billion aggregate OFW remittances or more than 20% thereof.

DeltaMeco Crewing Services welcomes this new legislation in the hope that it discourages current 'ambulance chasing' practices by unscrupulous lawyers and provides a greater level of protection for our Filipino seafarers.