Seafarers, families and migrant groups renew call for better treatment on National Seafarers Day

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Photo courtesy of Migrante International Facebook page

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 26) — On National Seafarers’ Day, migrant workers’ groups teamed up with repatriated seafarers and their families to remind the government of their concerns in light of the pandemic and the recent incident involving a capsized livestock ship in Japan where majority of its Filipino crew is still reported missing.

Migrante International teamed up with various organizations to launch what it called a National Day of Action to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino seafarers.

Participants from all over the world joined calls for the government to give priority to seafarers’ concerns amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, stopping labor export, and to pass the Makabayan bloc’s House Bill 6588, or the “Magna Carta for Seafarers’ Rights.”

“Ang hamon natin ngayon ay palakasin pa ang kolektibong boses at pagkilos ng mga seafarers at kanilang mga pamilya para itaguyod at isulong ang kanilang karapatan,” Joanna Concepcion, Migrante International chairperson, said during the online forum.

[Translation: The challenge now is to strengthen the collective voice and action of seafarers and their families to further the quest for their rights.]

Also present in the forum were various seafarers and their families, who shared experiences and thanked Migrante and other groups for their support.

Liberty Señeres, wife of Aristotle Sabillena – one of over 30 Filipino seafarers still believed to be missing after the Gulf Livestock I capsized in the East China Sea, appealed for prayers and support.

“Hanggang ngayon po, hindi pa po kami nakakampante na mga pamilya ng 40 missing crew na hanggang ngayon po ay naghahanap kami ng imbestigasyon at kasagutan ukol sa pangyayari,” Señeres said.

[Translation: Until now, the families of all 40 missing crew members (of the Gulf Livestock I) are not yet complacent. We’re still seeking out an investigation and the answers about the incident.]

The Japanese Coast Guard had earlier downgraded its search efforts for the missing seafarers to regular patrols, while Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said China, South Korea, and Taiwan agreed to the Philippines’ request for help.

Every last Sunday of September is declared “National Seafarers Day”, by virtue of Presidential Decree 1094 signed by then-President Fidel V. Ramos in 1997.