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AMOSUP Hosts Successful Info Caravan, Prioritizing Seafarer Well-being and Union Benefits


Seafarer concerns took center stage as the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines’ (AMOSUP) Info Caravan 2023 anchored at National Maritime Week, tackled welfare, rights, and job stability.

The event, held on Sept. 28, 2023, at the AMOSUP Sea-men’s Center in Intramuros, Manila, featured the latest issues, trends, and updates on maritime labor, seafarers’ rights, and welfare services and facilities provided by the union to its members and their families.

Among the highlights of the information caravan was the discussion on current maritime labor issues such as ambulance chasing, just transition, the future of work, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Conrado Oca and VADM Eduardo Ma R Santos, AMOSUP president and executive vice president, led the info Caravan program.

Dr. Oca gave his appreciation to all those who attend-ed the event, reaffirming AMOSUP’s crucial role in protecting the Filipino sea-farer’s rights and empowering its members.

With an ever-evolving maritime landscape, Dr. Oca said AMOSUP will continue to chart the course, advocating for technological advancements, mental health support, and environ-mental sustainability in the industry.

In a solemn moment of remembrance, Dr. Oca led a hushed gathering in a few minutes of silence for the late DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople. A dear friend and steadfast partner to both AMOSUP and Dr. Oca, her dedication to seafarers transcended generations, echoing the shared legacy of her father, Blas Ople, and AMOSUP founder, the legendary Captain Gregorio Oca.

Guest speakers include Migrant Workers OIC-Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac, and Overseas Workers Wel-fare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Arnell Ignacio.

During the event, OIC Secretary Cacdac revealed that the DMW was pushing for Filipino fishers or seafarers   deployed in foreign commercial fishing vessels included in the Magna Carta of Filipi-no Seafarers.

He expressed categorically DMW’s position on Filipino fishers serving fishing vessels plying overseas. “Dapat kasama ang fishers sa magna carta,” Cacdac said, adding that they are most oppressed among sea based OFWs.

Unlike other seafarers, Filipi-no fishers on foreign vessels often confront unfair labor practices. From hefty placement fees to phantom con-tracts and vanishing wages, their dreams of a brighter future can get cruelly ship-wrecked.

Most of them work in sub-standard conditions with extended working periods, and many do not have over-time pay. In some instances, information on their where-abouts is kept from their families. They could hardly communicate with their families while on board.

Unfortunately, both the Senate and the House of Representatives versions of the proposed Magna Carta exclude seafarers onboard fishing vessels in their definition of seafarers. Cacdac said DMW is prepar- ing to review the 2016 Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers under the defunct Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

“We will come out with [separate] rules for fishers to provide them protection,” Cacdac said.

The DMW OIC further said the department intends to introduce new provisions in the rules, apparently in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for ease of doing business.

During the Info Caravan, he also announced that the Board of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) had approved the establishment of a seafarers’ hub where they could avail of government services. Cacdac also sits on the OWWA Board.

OWWA Administrator Arnel Ignacio, meanwhile shared that the OWWA Board allocated a P14.8 million budget for setting up the seafarers’ hub.

“We decided to set up a sea-farers’ hub so they will have a place to hang out safe from ambulance chasers,” Ignacio said.

“We will tap lawyers, in cooperation with IBP (Inte-grated Bar of the Philippines), who expressed willingness to join in this venture,” he said.

Ignacio said that the seafarers’ hub will be equipped with copying machines.

The Event was also graced by Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) MDS Director Arsenio Lingad II, DMW Aesc. Augusto San Diego III, Asec. Jerome Pampolina, SSS President and CEO Rolando Macasaet, PAG-IBIG OFW Center Acting Dept. Manager Ms.  Mercedita Lusanta and representatives from the SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG presented their services and put up booths to service the members.