July 26th, 2011

Equal Protection of Law for Filipino Seafarers Pushed

Manila, Philippines- Lawmakers are pushing for an “equal protection of law for Filipino seamen” in line with the growing number of pirate attacks at seas as Democratic Independent Workers' Association (DIWA) party-list representative Emmeline Aglipay recently filed House Resoultion1474.

This new Resolution is asking the House committee to look into the recent sea piracy incidents that involves Filipino seafarers and improve the current protection rights of seafarers. 

"The inadequacy of our piracy laws necessitates additional legislative measures to make them more all-encompassing, so as not to prejudice other Filipino seafarers who are likewise prone to pirate attacks," said Aglipay.

Aglipay also emphasized the need for the government to provide “double compensation and benefits” to sea piracy victims. The present rules in the country states that only victims of hijacking in “high risk” zones are given compensation which does not cover the piracy victims.

 "The Philippine government must take an aggressive role in addressing the plight of our Filipino seafarers who will continue… becoming victims of these illegal activities," added Aglipay.

The lawmaker also mentioned the case of Christopher Ceprado which is one of the 17 Filipino crewmembers of chemical tanker M/T Sea King. Ceprado was killed during the attack of the Somali pirates and his case was the one that pushed Aglipay to file the House Resolution.

The party-list representative cited the importance of the role of Filipino seafarers in boosting the economy. Currently there are over 300,000 Filipino seafarers, comprising around 30 percent of an estimated 1.2 million seafarers worldwide. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration they have remitted a total of $3.8 billion in 2010, it added.

Aglipay also quoted the International Chamber of Commerce as saying there have been 248 attacks and 28 vessels hijacked worldwide so far this year.

"While the waters off Somalia continues to remain the most piracy-prone area, the risk to crews and shipping off Nigeria and its neighboring states remains high as well especially since incidents are not reported," the lawmaker said.