Escrow provision in the Magna Carta for Seafarers concerns solon

Escrow provision of the Magna Carta for Seafarers concerns Gabriela solon

/ 12:20 PM December 14, 2023

While the House of Representatives and the Senate have ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers, a lawmaker has reiterated concerns regarding the monetary award provisions of the bill.

Members of the seafarer’s group Amor and other labor organizations protest the escrow provision in the proposed Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers at a rally held last May 1, 2023, Labor Day, in Manila. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — While the House of Representatives and the Senate have ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers, a lawmaker has reiterated concerns regarding the escrow provisions inside the bill.

During the session on Wednesday, the House and the Senate separately ratified the bicam report on House Bill No. 7325 and Senate Bill No. 2221, which seeks to protect seafarers by outlining their rights and the benefits they should receive.


Some of the benefits mentioned in the bill are the seafarers’ right to educational advancement and training at an affordable cost; the right to public consultation in case matters relating to their job is being discussed; the right against discrimination; the right to free legal representation; and right to an appropriate grievance mechanism.


READ: Senate ratifies bicam report on proposed Magna Carta of Seafarers 

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said that they support the ratification of the bill being one of the principal authors of the proposal, as it would help the Filipino seafarers who are fighting for fair treatment and justice regarding their personal circumstances.

READ: House approves Magna Carta for Seafarers proposal on third reading 

However, they are still concerned about the escrow provisions in the bill — which provided that monetary awards given through an arbiter, like the National Labor Relations Commission, to a seafarer disabled in the line of work would be held in escrow if the employer disputes it.

According to the bicam report, the following issues were resolved by the committee:

  • On the proposed annual leave, bicam members agreed to a compromise of 3.5 calendar days per month of employment for Filipino seafarers
  • The Senate also adopted the House version institutionalizing shipboard training that will be regulated and monitored by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina)
  • Bicam members likewise came up with a provision on the execution of judgment and monetary award under which the winning party would be ensured restitution of the disputed monetary award in case of a reversal on appeal

While the monetary award was part of the discussions, it did not directly involve the escrow provision.


“Gabriela Women’s Party is one of the principal authors of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers in this chamber, and we are happy that our measure has sailed a long way now that the bicameral report on it has been ratified. This is a much noted progression as far as embedding Filipino seafarers’ rights and welfare in our legal frameworks is concerned,” Brosas said.

“While we support the ratification of the bicameral report, we express our reservation on Section 57 regarding the Execution of Judgment and Monetary Awards, as it prescribes the posting of bond for the full restitution of monetary award,” she added.

Brosas claimed that the provision would mean a deferral of the monetary award given to seafarers until appeals from shipping or manpower companies are resolved.

“It will potentially defer the granting of full monetary award to aggrieved seafarers for an indefinite period, considering the long grind of the wheels of justice in our courts,” she said.

This is not the first time that Brosas raised this concern — which has been shared by several marine workers’ rights advocates.  During the deliberations in the House, the lawmaker asked bill sponsor and Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo about the escrow provision, then under Section 57, of the House bill.

Brosas said she feared that seafarers, who need the money for their disability, would be held hostage by the provision because the seafarer couldn’t get the award until legal proceedings are completed.

Salo in response clarified that the payment of disability claims would be given, adding that what would be held in escrow is only the amount to be disputed by both parties — or claims that would cover possible compensation that would go beyond the tenure of the worker, possibly due to inability to work other jobs.

But Brosas said even claims above the disability award are important for seafarers and their families.

READ: Bill protecting rights, welfare of seafarers passes House on 2nd reading 

Brosas said that despite these issues, they still support this victory for seafarers.

“Makasaysayan ang pag-apruba nito dahil sa wakas, kikilalanin na sa batas ang mga karapatan ng ating mga marino na umaambag nang malaki sa ating ekonomiya,” she added.

(The approval of the bill is historic because finally, the law would acknowledge the rights of our seafarers who contribute largely to our economy.)

“Nevertheless, we support the Magna Carta in its totality as a historic advance and victory of Filipino seafarers. Tuloy ang laban para itaguyod ang karapatan at kagalingan  ng seafarers!” she added.

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(The fight to uphold the rights and to push for the betterment of the seafarers continues!)

TAGS: concern, Gabriela, House, lawmakers, seafarers, Senate

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