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Seafarers

Who are Seafarers?


According to the POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and
Employment of Seafarers, it refer to any person who is employed or engaged in any
capacity on board a seagoing ship navigating the foreign seas other than a government
ship used for military or non-commercial purposes. The definition shall include
fishermen, cruise ship personnel and those serving on foreign maritime mobile offshore
and drilling units.

Seafarers are contractual employees. Their employment is governed by the POEA


Standard Employment Contract they sign every time they are hired. Their employment
terminates when the contract expires. When it does, they are not entitled to separation
pay since their employment is contractually fixed for a certain period. They fall under the
exception of Art. 280 whose employment has been fixed for a specific project or
undertaking the completion and termination of which has been determined at the time of
engagement of the employee or where the work to be performed is seasonal in nature
and the employment is for the duration of the season. (Millares, July 29, 2002)

The Supreme Court, despite persistent appeal of seafarers in several cases, has
repeatedly reaffirmed the Millares ruling. For instance, in the case Pentagon
International Shipping, July 27, 2004; and Ravago, March 14, 2005.

Key Statistics
The remittances amount of Filipino seafarers reach up to US$ 5.5 billion as of the year
2014 and contribute significantly to the national economy.

Maritime schools and training centers in the country produce 20,000 graduates each
year, but only a small percentage of these students actually find employment.

Background
According to the International Labour Organization, The Philippines ranks as the top
supplier of seafarers in the world, accounting for nearly 30% of world seafarers working
on foreign flag ships. It also has a large domestic fleet, with nearly as many seafarers
working on Philippines flagged ships.2

Devoting their lives isolated at sea, living in cramped quarters and at the mercy of the
weather, seafarers face extremely challenging conditions. Studies show that ships
remain one of the most dangerous places to work, with casualty figures significantly
higher for seafarers than for other occupational groups.

11 Decent Work for Seafarers, International Labour Organization, November 2014, accessed November
3, 2015, http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilomanila/documents/publication/wcms_173266.pdf.

2 Philippines Ratification Marks Global Milestone for Decent Work for Seafarers, International Labour
Organization, August 20 , 2012, accessedNovember 4, 2015,
http://www.ilo.org/global/standards/maritime-labour-convention/WCMS_187712/lang--en/index.htm.

There have been many cases filed on injuries, disabilities, or death due to exposure to
health and safety hazards. Global nature of seafarers employment made it difficult to
enforce appropriate laws that protect their rights. The nature of their work and lack of
enforcement make them vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and unfair labour practices.

In response to these challenges, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted


the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). Widely known as the Seafarers
Bill of Rights, it sets the minimum standards for decent work for seafarers. It aims to
improve the working and living conditions of seafarers and to protect them against
cases of exploitation and safety hazards.

Recognizing the significance of the Filipino seafarers as major component of Overseas


Employment to the economy, Senator Edgardo Angara introduced Senate Bill No. 214
An Act Instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, during the fourteenth (14 th)
congress and later re-introduced during the fifteenth (15 th) congress as Senate Bill No.
2062,

such bill however was not enacted into law. Senate Bill No. 21 was then

sponsored by Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada during the sixteenth (16 th) congress
consolidating all the pending bills relating to the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers. The
Bill sought to institute a mechanism for the enforcement and protection of the rights and
welfare of Filipino seafarers, provide for compulsory benefits and implement standards
set by the MLC, 2006. Said Bill, however, was not yet passed into law as of this date.

On May 28, 2012, President S. Aquino III signed the ratification of the MLC, 2006
making the Philippines the 30th ratifying country. Thus, to show the countrys
commitment to conform with the standards set forth in the said convention, the
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), as the main implementing and enforcing
agency, issued its interpretation through a series of Department Orders (DO),
particularly DO 129-13 and DO 130-13. Department Order 129-13 was issued to
provide rules and regulations on maritime labor standards which will protect the welfare
of seafarers employed on board ships engaged in domestic shipping. Department
Order 130-13, on the other hand, was issued to provide rules and regulations to govern
ships engaged in international voyages where employer-employee relationship or other
forms of engagement exists.

Department Order No. 129-2013


DO No. 129-2013 promulgates rules and regulations governing the employment and
working conditions of seafarers onboard ships engaged in domestic shipping. It applies
to shipowners and seafarers where employer-employee relationship exists. It covers
Philippine registered ships engaged in domestic shipping other than the following
categories of ships:
a.) Warships and naval auxiliaries;
b.) Government ships not engaged in commercial operation; and
c.) Fishing vessels

Domestic shipping shall refer to transport of passenger or cargo, or both by ships duly
registered and licensed under Philippine law to engage in trade and commerce between

Philippine ports and within Philippine territorial or internal waters, for hire or
compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional, or
incidental, with or without fixed routes, and done for contractual or commercial
purposes.3

Seafarer Requirements to Work on Ship


A seafarer must be at least 18 years of age to be able to work or be engaged on board
a ship. He/she must (1) hold a valid medical certificate issued by a medical facility duly
accredited by the Department of Health specifically for that purpose and in accordance
with existing rules and regulations; and (2) possess the required training and
qualifications duly certified by the appropriate government agencies. 4

The seafarer shall not be charged directly or indirectly any fees, other charges for
recruitment, placement or for providing employment to seafarers, in whole or in part.
The DOLEs existing guidelines on recruitment and placement and/or contracting and
subcontracting work arrangement shall govern the recruitment and placement of
seafarers. The fees for pre-employment medical examination may, however, be
shouldered by the seafarers5
3 RA 9295

4 Sec. 1-3, Rule II, DOLE DO No. 129-13

5 Sec. 4, Rule II, DOLE DO No. 129-13

Seafarers Employment Agreement


It is obligatory that an employment agreement between the shipowner and the seafarer
be executed in writing and shall include the following terms:
a) The seafarers full name, date of birth or age, and birthplace;
b) The shipowners name and address;
c) The place where and date when the seafarers employment agreement is
entered into
d) The capacity in which the seafarer is to be employed;
e) The amount of the seafarers salary, and the formula used for calculating the
same;
f) Hours of work;
g) Wages and wage-related benefits, which include the following: overtime pay,
holiday pay, premium pay, paid leaves, 13th month pay;
h) Social security and welfare benefits;
i) Separation pay and retirement pay; and
j) Other benefits in accordance with law, company policy or agreements.

The foregoing employment agreement must be executed by and between the shipowner
and the seafarer before the commencement of employment, in a working language and
in English. The seafarer shall be given opportunity to examine and seek advice on the
agreement before signing. The employer and the seafarer shall each have a signed

original of the agreement and an electronic copy thereof shall be submitted to the
DOLE. A certified true copy must be made available onboard the ship.

Seafarers Minimum Benefits6


To guaranty the decent working conditions of the seafarer, he shall be entitled to not
less than the following benefits provided in the Labor Code:
a. Wages for work hours and days shall not be lower than the applicable minimum
wage rates in the domicile or head of the shipowner, whichever is higher. Wages
shall be paid at least once every two weeks or twice a month at intervals not
exceeding 16 days.
b. Twelve (12) Regular Holidays with pay pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 292
otherwise Known as the Administrative Code of 1987 as amended by Republic
Act (RA) No. 9849. The seafarer shall be paid holiday pay of 100% of the regular
rate even if he/she did not report for work. If the seafarer is required to work on
said holiday, he/she shall be paid 200% of the regular rate.
c. Three (3) Special Days (non-working) pursuant to EO No. 292 otherwise known
as the Administrative Code of 1987 as amended by RA No. 9849 and such other
special days as may be declared. If the seafarer is required to work on a special
day, he shall be paid an additional premium of 30% of the basic wage.
d. Rest day of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours for every six (6) consecutive
normal working days. If seafarer is required to work on a res day, he shall be paid
an additional premium of 30% of the basic wage. Whenever work is performed

6 Sec. 2, Rule III, DOLE DO No. 129-13

on a rest day which also happens to be a special day, he is entitled to an


additional 50% of the basic wage.
e. Overtime pay for work in excess of eight hours a day, equivalent to the basic
hourly rate plus an additional of at least 25% thereof on ordinary days, or regular
hourly rate plus an additional of at least 30% thereof if overtime work is rendered
on regular holidays, special days or rest days.
f. Night shift pay of an additional 10% of the regular wage rate for work between
10:00 pm and 6:00 am of the following day.
g. Paid service incentive leave of five days for every year of service
h. 13th month pay pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 851, as amended, equivalent
to 1/12 of the total basic salary earned within the calendar year to be given not
later than 24 December of every year.
i. Paid maternity leave of sixty (60) days for normal delivery or seventy eight (78)
days for caesarian section delivery, pursuant to RA No. 8282, otherwise known
as the Social Security Act of 1997
j. Paid paternity leave of seven (7) days, pursuant to RA 8187, otherwise known as
the Paternity Leave Act of 1996
k. Paid parental Leave of (7) day for solo parents pursuant to RA No. 8972,
otherwise known as the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000.
l. Paid leave of ten (10) days for victims of violence against women and their
children, pursuant of RA No. 9262 otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against
Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
m. Paid special leave of not more than sixty (60) days due to surgery for any
gynecological disorder, pursuant to RA 9710 otherwise known as Magna Carta of
Women
n. Retirement pay upon reaching the age of sixty (60) or more but not beyond sixtyfive (65) years old, pursuant to RA No. 7641

The seafarer may receive better benefits as the foregoing minimum benefits shall be
without prejudice to any company policy, contract, or collective bargaining agreement
(CBA) providing for better terms and conditions of employment.

Seafarers Working Conditions7


The normal hours of work of a seafarer shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day. If he shall
be required to work beyond eight (8) hours, the maximum hours of work shall not
exceed fourteen (14) hours in any 24-hour period and seventy-two (72) hours in any
seven-day period. The minimum hours of rest for seafarers shall not be less than ten
(10) hours in any 24-hour period, and seventy-seven (77) hours in any seven-day
period. The ten (10) hours of rest may be divided into not more than two periods. One of
the two periods shall be at least six hours in length. The interval between the
consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed fourteen (14) hours.

In cases where the hours of work exceeds fourteen (14) hours due to overriding safety
and operational conditions of the ship, the hours of rest in any seven-day period shall
not be less than seventy (70) hours.

The seafarers waiting time shall not be considered as compensable working time if the
seafarer is completely relieved from his/her duty and can use the time effectively for
his/her own purpose.

7 Sec. 3-8, Rule II, DOLE DO No. 129-13

The shipowner is now required to post a table of the shipboard working arrangements in
an easily accessible place. The shipboard working arrangements shall contain the
schedule of service at sea and at port and the maximum hours of work or minimum
hours of rest. The same must be in the working language and in English. A record of the
seafarers daily hours of work or rest shall likewise be maintained by the shipowner.

The seafarer enjoys security of tenure in his employment. His services may not be
terminated unless for just or authorized causes as provided under the Labor Code.

Seafarers are given the right to form, join, or assist in the formation of a labor
organization of their own choosing for purposes of collective bargaining and to engage
in concerted activities in accordance with law. In case where a CBA exist, it must be
registered with the DOLE Regional Office and the same must be maintained on-board
the ship.

Seafarers Accommodation, Food and Catering8


Decent accommodations and recreational facilities shall be provided the seafarer in
accordance with the standards set under applicable laws and regulations.

The protection and promotion of the health of the seafarer is a paramount consideration
of the shipowner, thus he must ensure that ships carry onboard ample food and drinking
water of appropriate quality and nutritional value that adequately cover the requirements
8 Sec. 1-2, Rule IV, DOLE DO No. 129-13

10

of the ship and which are suitable to the needs of the seafarers taking into account their
differing cultural and religious backgrounds. and to the and take into consideration The
preparation of food and drinks shall be in accordance with the standards of the pertinent
laws, rules, and regulations implemented by the Department of Health.

Seafarers Safety and Health9


The ship owner shall establish and maintain safety and health committee to develop
and implement the safety and health policies and programs to promote the welfare of
the seafarers. Said policies and programs shall be implemented by a designated safety
and health officer onboard the ship. Such policies and programs must be consistent with
the Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines (MOSH) for the maritime
industry including the 1996 ILO Code of Practice entitled Accident Prevention On-Board
Ship, at Sea, and In Port and subsequent versions. Some of the Occupational and
Safety and Health policies and programs included in the MOSH are the following:
a) Prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, including measures to
reduce and prevent risk of exposure to harmful chemicals and physical
hazards such as heat, noise, and vibration, as well as the risk of injury or
disease that may arise from the use of equipment and machinery onboard
ship;
b) Prevention and control of Alcoholism, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis;
c) Prevention of sexual harassment;

9 Sec. 1-4, Rule V, DOLE DO No. 129-13

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d) Risk evaluation, training, and instruction to seafarers;


e) Emergency preparedness;
f) Promotion of drug-free workplace;
g) Monitoring of work environment, engineering and design control, compliance
with safe work procedures, safe use and maintenance of machine or
equipment, and the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
and
h) Reporting and correction of unsafe conditions as well as investigation and
reporting of onboard occupational accidents.

The shipowner must also provide adequate medical services and medicine chest
onboard, and access to shore facilities, as well as medical/trained personnel who shall
provide first aid and medical care according to the MOSH. The shipowner shall ensure
that seafarers have access to treatment for sickness or injury, hospitalization, and
essential dental care. The seafarer shall have the right to consult a qualified physician
or dentist without delay in ports of call, where practicable.

Social Security
Without Prejudice to established policy, collective bargaining agreement or other
applicable employment agreement, all seafarers are covered by the Social Security
System (SSS), Employees Compensation and State Insurance Fund, PhilHealth, PagIBIG Fund, and other applicable laws. They shall be entitled to all the benefits in
accordance with the respective policies, laws, rules, and regulations.

12

Shipboard Training of Cadets10


Cadets undergoing shipboard training must at least be sixteen (16) years old. A written
agreement between the shipowner, and the cadet and the maritime institution/school
must be executed in the working language and in English, before the commencement of
the shipboard training. The Provisions regarding Section 2 (Medical Certificate) of Rule
II, Section 1 (Accommodation) and Section 2 (Food Catering) of Rule IV; Section 1
(Occupational Safety and Health Policy Program) of Rule V and Rule IX (Compliant
Procedures and Mechanism) shall likewise apply to Trainees.

Compliance and Enforcement11


It shall be the duty of the DOLE Secretary or his/her duly authorized representative, to
enforce the provisions of the Rules and Regulation of Department Order 129-30 in
accordance with Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS). The shipowner engaged in
domestic shipping shall be made principally liable for any violation on the provisions of
this Rules and Regulations.

In enforcing compliance with the Rules, it is the Regional Office having jurisdiction over
the homeport of the ship which shall conduct a Joint Assessment on all covered

10 Sec. 1-2, Rule VII, DOLE DO No. 129-13

11 Rule VIII, DOLE DO No. 129-13

13

Philippine domestic ships. After which, a Certificate of Compliance which shall be valid
for 2 years shall be issued by the Regional Director to ships found to be compliant.

The application for renewal of certificate shall be filed by the shipowner within sixty (60)
days prior to its expiration. The application for renewal of certificate shall be filed with
the issuing authority informing the place, date, and time of the availability of the ship for
succeeding assessment. The new certificate shall be valid from the date of completion
of the assessment.

Complaint Procedure and Mechanism12


When a CBA exists between the bargaining agent of the seafarers and the shipowner,
the parties shall establish machinery for the adjustment and resolution of grievances. In
the absence of a CBA, the shipowner shall establish a grievance procedure or any
machinery that will ensure fair, effective and expeditious handling of seafarers'
complaints for violation of this Rules and Regulations, and employment agreement.

Seafarers may avail of the DOLE conciliation-mediation service under the Single Entry
Approach (SEnA) pursuant to D.O. No. 107, Series of 2010, by filing a request for
assistance with the DOLE Regional/Provincial/Field Offices.

Department Order No. 130-2013

12 Rule IX, DOLE DO No. 129-13

14

DO No. 130-2013 promulgates rules and regulations governing the employment and
working conditions of seafarers onboard Philippine Registered Ships Engaged in
International Voyage. It applies to shipowners and seafarers where employer-employee
relationship or other forms of Engagement exists. Excluded from its coverage are the
following categories of ships:
a.)
b.)
c.)
d.)

Warships and naval auxiliaries;


Other government ships not engaged in commercial operation;
Ships of traditional build, such as pump boats; and
Fishing vessels

International voyage refers to a voyage from a country to a port outside such country, or
between ports in another country or other countries. The employment of seafarers
onboard fishing ships plying international waters shall be governed by separate
guidelines of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Seafarer Requirements to Work on Ship13


Similar with the minimum requirements provided in DO 129-13, the seafarer must be at
least 18 years of age and a holder of a valid medical certificate issued by a medical
facility duly accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) and in accordance with
existing rules and regulations. He must likewise be certified as competent and qualified
to work, be employed or be engaged onboard a ship.

13 Sec. 1-4, Rule III, DOLE DO No. 130-13

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No fees or other charges for recruitment, placement or for providing employment to


seafarers shall be borne directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by the seafarer. The
Department of Labor and Employment and POEAs existing guidelines on recruitment
and placement and/or contracting and subcontracting work arrangement shall govern
the recruitment and placement of seafarers.

Seafarers Employment Agreement14


Prior to commencement of employment, a written agreement between the shipowner
and the seafarer in the English language shall be executed in four original copies. The
original copies shall be submitted to the DOLE through the POEA for approval. The
shipowner, the seafarer, the manning agency, and the POEA shall each have a signed
and approved original copy of the agreement. A signed and POEA approved original
copy of the agreement must be made available onboard the ship. The shipowner shall
be given an opportunity to examine and seek advice on the agreement before signing.
The terms and conditions of employment of the seafarer shall be governed by the POEA
Standard Employment Contract.

Seafarers Working Conditions15

14 Sec. 1, Rule IV, DOLE DO No. 130-13

15 Sec. 2-4, Rule IV, DOLE DO No. 130-13

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The shipowner shall maintain a minimum safe manning level onboard in accordance
with existing maritime laws and regulations.

The seafarers have the right to form join or assist in the formation of a labor
organization of their own choosing for purposes of collective bargaining and to engage
in concerted activities in accordance with law. If there is a CBA, the same must be
registered with the DOLE through the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) and the POEA.
A copy thereof must be maintained onboard the ship.

Seafarers Accommodation, Food and Catering16


Decent accommodations and recreational facilities onboard in accordance with the
standards set under applicable laws and regulations shall be provided the seafarers. To
ensure protection and promotion of the health of the seafarer, the shipowner shall
ensure that ships carry onboard food and drinking water of appropriate quality, quantity,
and nutritional value that adequately cover the requirements of the ship and take into
consideration the differing cultural and religious back grounds. The preparation of food
and drinks shall be in accordance with the standards of the pertinent laws, rules and
regulations implemented by the DOH.

Seafarers Safety and Health

16 RULE V and RULE VI DOLE DO No. 130-13

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Shipowners are required to develop for its ships a safety and health plan. The
shipowner shall designate a Safety and Health Officer Onboard to implement the ships
safety and health plan. The shipowner shall adopt, implement and promote occupational
safety and health policies and programs on ships, consistent with the Philippine
Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines and the 1996 ILO Code of Practice
on Accident Prevention On Board Ship, at Sea and in Port and subsequent versions
thereof, which shall include the following subjects:

a) Prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, including measures to


reduce and prevent risk of exposure to harmful chemicals and physical
hazards, such as heat, noise, and vibration, as well as the risk of injury or
disease that may arise from the use of equipment and machinery on board
ship;
b) Prevention and control of Alcoholism, Hepatitis B, HIV I AIDS and
Tuberculosis;
c) Prevention of sexual harassment;
d) Risk evaluation, training and instruction to seafarers;
e) Emergency preparedness;
f) Promotion of Drug-free workplace;
g) Monitoring of work environment, engineering and design control, compliance
with safe work procedures, safe use and maintenance of machine or
equipment, and the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment
(PPE);and

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h) Reporting and correction of unsafe conditions as well as investigation and


reporting of on board occupational accidents.

The shipowner shall provide adequate medical services and medicine chest onboard,
and access to shore facilities, for the protection of the health of the seafarers, as well as
the corresponding medical/and / or trained personnel who shall provide first aid and
medical care according to the Maritime Occupational Safety and Health. The shipowner
shall ensure that seafarers have access to shore based treatment for sickness or injury,
hospitalization and essential dental care. The seafarer shall have the right to consult a
qualified physician or dentist without delay in ports of call, where practicable.

The Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines shall be followed in as far as
implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Policy and Program for Seafarers
are concerned.

Social Security
Without prejudice to established policy, collective bargaining agreement or other
applicable employment agreement, all seafarers shall be entitled to compensation and
benefits under the POEA SEC and benefits provided for by the Welfare Fund for
Overseas Workers, the Pag-IBIG Fund (Republic Act No. 7742), PhilHealth (Republic
Act No. 7875, as amended by Republic Act No. 9241), Employees Compensation and
State Insurance Fund (Presidential Decree No. 626), and the Social Security Law

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(Republic Act No 1161 as amended by Republic Act No. 8282), and other applicable
laws.

Enforcement and the Certificates (DMLC 1& 2 and the MLC)


Pursuant to Article 128 of the Labor Code, as amended, the Secretary or his/ her duly
authorized representative shall have access to all ships and conduct inspection to
ensure compliance with working and living standards. The DOLE Regional Office or
Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) having jurisdiction over the port of call of the
ship shall conduct the inspection and issue corresponding Maritime Labour Certificate.
The Secretary may, however authorize recognized organization (ROs) such as
members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and other
reputable international classification organizations presently performing classification of
ships in the international trade to conduct inspection of ships and issue the Maritime
Labour Certificate.

The DMLC refers to the document that states the Philippine requirements to implement
the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 for the working and living conditions for
seafarers. The DMLC is in two parts, DMLC I and DMLC II.

The DMLC Part I is issued by the Secretary within 15 days from the effectivity of the
Rules and Regulations. The DMLC Part II, which sets out the measures adopted by the
shipowners to ensure compliance is accomplished by the shipowner and certified by the
Secretary or his/ her authorized representative.

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The Maritime Labour Certificate refers to the document that certifies that the working
and living conditions of seafarers on the ship have been inspected and meet the
requirements of Philippine laws and regulation. The MLC is issued, upon application of
the shipowner, by the Secretary or his/ her authorized representative certifying that the
working conditions of seafarers on the ship, as well as measures for ongoing
compliance have been inspected and meet the requirements of Philippine laws and
regulations. The Certificate is valid for 5 months upon its issuance, subject to
intermediate inspection which shall take place between the second and third
anniversary dates of the certificate.

The MLC may however be revoked on any of the following grounds:


a) Violations/ deficiencies found during the conduct of inspection were not
remedied or corrected within the prescribed period;
b) Inspections are not completed within the prescribed period at the fault of the
shipowner;
c) The ship changes flag;
d) The shipowner ceases to assume the responsibility for the operation of the
ship;
e) The seaworthiness of the ship has not been certified or the certificates issued
by the MARINA or its classification society ceases to be valid or has been
revoked; and

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f) Under other circumstances analogous or similar to the foregoing and other


grounds as may be determined by the Secretary.

The application for the renewal of the MLC shall be filed by the shipowner ninety (90)
days prior to its expiration with the appropriate Regional Office, POLO or authorized
RO, with information as to the place, date and time of the availability of the ship for
renewal inspection.

The Secretary or his/ her authorized representatives may order an unscheduled/ spot
inspection, aside from the mandatory inspection prescribed herein if there are reports of
violation/s of the rules and regulations, imminent danger, occurrence of accident, or as
may be deemed necessary.

After the conduct of inspection, the appropriate regional office, POLO or duly authorized
RO shall submit an inspection report to the Secretary, copy furnished to the Master of
the Ship. A copy of the report shall be posted in the notice board of the ship and a copy
may be sent to the seafarers representative upon request.

Where the Maritime Labour Certificate of a ship that is in a Philippine Port has not been
issued/ renewed or has been revoked, the Secretary or the Regional Director shall
cause the Philippine Coast Guard to prevent a ship from leaving port. In the case of
ships outside Philippine territory, the Secretary shall direct his/ her authorized

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representative/ to serve the notice of non-issuance/ non-renewal or revocation on the


ship and to the concerned port State control authority.

Should there be findings of violations of the Rules and Regulations arising from the
conduct of inspection, the same shall be resolved in accordance with the applicable
rules and regulations in the disposition of labor cases.

Posting Requirement
The Certificate should be posted by the shipowner in a conspicuous place onboard
where it is available to the seafarer. The DMLC Parts I and II shall be attached to the
Maritime Labour Certificate.

Complaint Procedure and Mechanism


The grievance procedure provided in the POEA Standard Employment Contract shall be
observed. Should there be an existing CBA between the bargaining agent of the
seafarers and the shipowner, the parties shall settle their grievances in accordance with
the procedure or machinery provided therein.

When onshore, seafarers may avail of the conciliation-mediation services of the DOLE
by filing a request for assistance before conciliation mediation desks of the POEA or
at the Regional / Field/Provincial or POLO Offices of the DOLE.

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The Maritime Industrial Tripartite Council, created by virtue of a Memorandum of


Agreement entered into by the stakeholders in the maritime industry, shall exercise
oversight functions to ensure the effective implementation of this Rules and
Regulations.

The Rules and Regulations shall be construed to eliminate or in any way diminish
supplements or other benefits being enjoyed at the time of the issuance of this Rules.
Existing Rules and Regulations issuances and policies inconsistent with the department
order are deemed repealed or modified.

Jurisdiction
Money claims including unpaid wages, illegal dismissal and claims for disability and
death benefits of seafarers are within the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiters of the
National Labor Relations Commission.

POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment


and Employment of Seafarers

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Participation of Private Sector in the Maritime Employment Program


1. Qualifications17.
Only those who possess the following qualifications may be permitted to engage
in the business of recruitment and placement of Filipino seafarers:
a) Filipino citizens, partnerships or corporations at least seventy-five percent
(75%) of the authorized and voting capital stock of which is owned and
controlled by Filipino citizens;
b) A minimum capitalization of Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) in case of a
single proprietorship or partnership and a minimum paid-up capital of Two
Million Pesos(P2,000,000.00) in case of a corporation; Provided that those
with existing licenses shall, within four years from effectivity hereof, increase
their capitalization or paid up capital, as the case may be, to Two Million
Pesos (P2,000,000.00) at the rate of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand
(P250,000.00) every year; and
c) Those not otherwise disqualified by law or other government regulations to
engage in the recruitment and placement of seafarers.

2. Disqualification18.
17 Sec 1 Rule 1 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

18 Sec 2 Rule 1 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

25

The following are not qualified to engage in the business of recruitment and
placement of Filipino seafarers.
a. Travel agencies and sales agencies of airline companies;
b. Officers or members of the Board of any corporation or members in a
partnership engaged in the business of a travel agency;
c. Corporations and partnerships, when any of its officers, members of the
board or partners, is also an officer, member of the board or partner of a
corporation or partnership engaged in the business of a travel agency;
d. Persons, partnerships or corporations which have derogatory records,
such as but not limited to the following:
i.

Those certified to have a derogatory record by the National Bureau


of Investigation or by the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch of the
POEA;

ii.

Those against whom probable cause or prima facie finding of guilt


for illegal recruitment or other related cases exists;

iii.

Those convicted for illegal recruitment or other related cases and/or


crimes involving moral turpitude;

iv.

Those agencies whose licenses have been previously revoked or


cancelled by the POEA for violation of RA 8042, PD 442, as
amended, and their implementing rules and regulations as well as
these rules and regulations.

All applicants for issuance/renewal of license shall be required to submit


clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation and Anti-illegal

26

Recruitment Branch, POEA, including clearances for their respective


officers and employees.
e. Any official or employee of the DOLE, POEA, OWWA, DFA and other
government agencies directly involved in the implementation of R.A. 8042
and/or any of his/her relatives within the fourth civil degree of
consanguinity or affinity; and
f. Persons, partners, officers and directors of corporations whose licenses
have been previously cancelled or revoked for violation of recruitment
laws.

3. Issuance of License19
Prior to the issuance, every applicant for license to operate a manning agency
shall submit a written application together with the requirements. Upon receipt of
an application with complete requirements, the POEA shall require payment of a
non-refundable filing fee of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) and submission of
proof of payment thereof.
Within fifteen (15) calendar days from receipt of an application with complete
requirements including proof of payment of the filing fee of Ten Thousand Pesos
(P10,000.00), the POEA shall evaluate the pertinent documents, inspect the office
premises of the applicant and determine whether or not to grant the application.
Denial of an application will result to the forfeiture of the filing fee.

19 Rule 2 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

27

Upon approval of the application, the applicant shall pay a license fee of Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00). It shall submit an escrow agreement in the
amount of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00), confirmation of escrow deposit with
a reputable bank and a surety bond of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000.00) from a bonding company acceptable to the POEA and accredited
with the Insurance Commission. Agencies with existing licenses shall, within four
years from effectivity hereof, increase their Escrow Deposit to One Million Pesos
(P1,000,000.00)

at

the

rate

of

One

Hundred

Seventy-Five

Thousand

(P175,000.00) pesos per year.

Provisional License20 - Applicants for new license shall be issued a provisional


license which shall be valid for a limited period of one (1) year within which the
applicant should be able to comply with its undertaking to deploy 50 seafarers to
its new principal. The license of a complying agency shall be upgraded to a full
license entitling them to another three years of operation. Non-complying
agencies will be notified of the expiration of their license.

20 Sec. 5 Rule 2 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

28

Validity of the License21 Every license shall be valid for four (4) years from the
date of issuance unless sooner cancelled, revoked or suspended. Such license
shall be valid only at the place/s stated therein.

Renewal of License22 - An agency shall submit an application for the renewal of


its license on or before the expiration of the license.

4. Inspection Of Manning Agencies23


Before issuance of a license, the POEA shall conduct an inspection of the
premises and pertinent documents of the applicant. Inspection shall likewise be
conducted on the new premises in case of transfer of office or opening of branch
or other facilities. All agencies shall be subject to periodic inspection of offices or
pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) venues by the POEA to determine
compliance with existing rules and regulations.

Violations found in the course of inspection such as non-compliance with existing


rules and regulations, shall be ground for the imposition of appropriate sanction or
for the denial of application for the issuance or renewal of license. Copy of the
21 Sec. 6 Rule 2 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

22 Sec. 15 Rule 2 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

23 Rule 3 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

29

inspection report shall be endorsed to the appropriate unit for the conduct of
necessary proceedings.

5. Fees and Contributions24


Agencies shall charge from their principals manning fee to cover services
rendered in the recruitment and deployment of seafarers. However, manning
agencies shall not charge any fee from the seafarers for their recruitment and
deployment services.

6. Documentary Processing of Seafarers25


The following requirements shall be submitted for the documentation of seafarers:
a) Request for processing indicating the names, positions and salaries of
workers using the prescribed form of the POEA;
b) Three (3) copies of the full text of applicable standard employment
contract aside from a copy provided to the applicant by the manning
c)
d)
e)
f)

agency;
Information Sheet;
Valid Seafarers Identification and Record Book;
Seafarers Registration Certificate;
Other documents which the POEA may find necessary.

24 Rule 4 Part 2 POEA SB Rules 2003

25 Rule 4 Part 3 POEA SB Rules 2003

30

The required processing fees shall be paid to the POEA upon submission of the
request for processing. An agency shall deploy its hired seafarers within sixty (60)
days from the date of issuance of the overseas employment certificate.

If the deployment of the seafarer does not materialize within thirty (30) days from
the lapse of the period to deploy, the agency shall report the non-deployment and
reasons thereof and apply to the POEA for cancellation of the seafarers
processed documents. If the deployment of the seafarer does not materialize due
to his fault, the agency may charge the seafarer for actual expenses incurred in
connection with his documentation and processing, duly supported by official
receipts.

In-House processing Facility26 - The POEA shall extend to qualified manning


agencies an in-house processing facility for the documents of seafarers who are
scheduled for deployment. Agencies that qualify to enjoy the privilege shall
comply with the documentary requirements. The agencies shall be subject to
regular audit and/or inspection by the POEA to ensure compliance with the
prescribed guidelines on in-house processing facility and shall be required to
submit a monthly report on the utilized or missing overseas employment
certificates to the POEA. The POEA reserves the right to recall the privilege and
incentive being enjoyed by an agency should there be an established case of

26 Sec. 5 Rule 4 Part 3 POEA SB Rules 2003

31

violation of POEA rules and regulations. Automatic preventive suspension shall be


imposed in case of violation of the prescribed guidelines.

Employment Standards
1. Formulation of Standard Employment Contracts27
The POEA, through tripartite consultation involving the seafarers and the private
sector, shall determine, formulate and establish minimum separate and distinct
standard employment contracts for seafarers in accordance with accepted
international standard and maritime practice. These standard employment
contracts, which shall be reviewed periodically to keep them attuned to
international requirements and demands, shall be the minimum requirement in
every individual contract approved by the POEA.

Parties to the individual employment contract are allowed to stipulate and mutually
agree to other terms and conditions more than the minimum standards; provided
that the stipulation are mutually beneficial to both parties and are not contrary to
law, public policy and morals.

Assistance to Seafarers

27 Rule 1 Part 4 POEA SB Rules 2003

32

1. Voluntary Arbitration28
Unresolved disputes involving seafarers and their employers principals with
Collective

Bargaining

Agreements,

arising

from

the

interpretation

or

implementation of the Standard Employment Contract, the Shipping Article,


Collective Bargaining Agreement and the interpretation, enforcement of company
personnel policies at the worksite and other employer-employee relations cases
involving Filipino seafarers, on the one hand, and the employers, principals and
contracting partners, on the other hand, including but not limited to contractual,
disciplinary action and other tort cases, shall be submitted to voluntary arbitration
for resolution.

Where the parties, although they have no existing collective bargaining


agreement, agrees to adopt voluntary arbitration as an option to settle their
conflicts, the POEA shall assists them in submitting their respective cases to
voluntary arbitration.

Any settlement reached by the parties in the course of the arbitration shall be final
and binding upon them. Where such amicable settlement is not agreed upon, the
Voluntary Arbitrator chosen by the parties shall resolve the conflict on the basis of
the evidence and issue his decision which shall likewise be final and binding upon
the parties.

28 Rule 1 Part 7 POEA SB Rules 2003

33

2. Repatriation of Seafarers29
The repatriation of the seafarer and the transport of his personal belongings shall
be the primary responsibility of the principal and/or agency which recruited or
deployed the seafarer overseas. All costs attendant to the repatriation shall be
borne or charged to the principal and/or agency concerned. Likewise, the
repatriation of remains and transport of the personal belongings of the deceased
seafarer and all costs attendant thereto shall be borne by the principal and/or the
agency. However, in cases where the termination of the employment is due solely
to the fault of the seafarer, the principal or agency shall not in any manner be
responsible for the repatriation of the former and/or his belongings.

The principal or agency shall advance the cost of plane fare without a prior
determination of the cause of the termination of the seafarers employment.
However, the principal/agency may recover the cost of repatriation from the
seafarer upon his return to the Philippines if termination of employment is due
solely to seafarers fault.

3. War Risk Areas and Premium Pay30

29 Rule 2 Part 7 POEA SB Rules 2003

30 Rule 3 Part 7 POEA SB Rules 2003

34

Seafarers who sail for work on areas declared by the POEA as war risk areas
shall be entitled to premium pay or its equivalent, the form of which shall be
determined by the POEA.

4. Education Program31
In accordance with the policy of full disclosure, the POEA shall provide a
comprehensive and integrated education program on seafarers employment and
shall be undertaken in partnership with other relevant organizations and
government entities. Such education program shall cover all stages of recruitment
and employment. The POEA shall develop and administer the program in
partnership with concerned government agencies, industry associations, civicoriented groups and non-government organizations. The POEA shall provide
orientation programs to officers and staff of licensed manning agencies.

It shall be the responsibility of every licensed manning agency to provide an


appropriate and comprehensive pre-departure orientation seminar to their
selected seafarers before deployment to ensure that their documents are in order,
they are well-informed on travel, arrival and remittance procedures as well as
what to do and where to ask for assistance during any form or post-arrival
problem.

Republic Act No. 8544


31 Rule 4 Part 7 POEA SB Rules 2003

35

AN ACT REGULATING THE PRACTICE OF THE MERCHANT MARINE


PROFESSION IN THE PHILIPPINES
Objectives:
1. The examination, registration and issuance of Certificate of Competency to
Merchant Marine Officers;
2. The supervision, control and regulation of the practice of Merchant Marine
profession in the Philippines: Provided, that the above objectives shall be attained
through profession in the Philippines: Provided, that the above objectives shall be
attained through compliance with Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 (STCW '78) Convention, as amended.

Practice of Merchant Marine Profession


Refers to the profession requiring the application of fundamental and known principles
of navigation, seamanship and engineering to the peculiar condition and requirements
of on board management, operation and maintenance of main propulsion and auxiliary
engines, stability and trim of the vessel and cargo handling. It shall also cover but will
not be limited to the following:
(1) The proper handling and stowage of cargoes on board ship which includes the safe
carriage of passengers from port of origin to port of destination;
(2) The safe watchkeeping of the vessel's navigation in accordance with the Rules of
the Road at Sea;
(3) The Maritime Education and Training of Cadets and other Marine Professionals;
36

(4) Employment with government provided such item or position requires the knowledge
and expertise of a Merchant Marine Officer.

Merchant Marine Vessel - shall apply only to the commercial ships, propelled by
machinery, public or private, strictly engaged in maritime commerce, both seagoing
and/or near-coastal trade, vessels engaged in the training of cadets for the merchant
marine profession, and noncombatant vessels of the Philippine Government.
Merchant Marine Officer - shall refer to marine deck or engineer officer.
Merchant Marine Deck Officer shall refer to a duly registered, certified and licensed
master mariner, chief mate and officer-in-charge of a navigational watch.
Merchant Marine Engineer Officer shall refer to a duly registered, certified and
licensed chief engineer, second engineer, and officer-in-charge of an engineering watch
in a manned engine-room or designated duty engineer in a periodically unmanned
engine-room, and coastal engineer.

BOARDS FOR MARINE DECK OFFICERS AND MARINE ENGINEER OFFICERS


Each Board shall be composed of a Chairman and four (4) members who shall be
appointed by the President of the Philippines from a list of three (3) recommendees for
each position recommended by the Professional Regulation Commission from a list of
five (5) nominees for each position chosen and ranked by the integrated and accredited
association of Marine Deck/Engineer Officers.
37

Qualifications of the Chairman and Members of the Board


The Chairman and members of the Board shall, at the time of the appointment, possess
the following qualifications:
(a) He must be a citizen and resident of the Philippines;
(b) He must be of proven integrity and with high moral values as evidenced by his past
professional conduct;
(c) He must be a duly registered Marine Deck/Engineer Officer under this Act, with a
valid certificate of registration and valid certificate of competency;
(d) He must be a member in good standing of the integrated and accredited association
of Marine Deck/Engineer Officers;
(e) He must not have any pecuniary interest, directly or indirectly, in any school,
academy, college, university or institution conferring an academic degree necessary for
admission to the practice of merchant marine profession; or where review classes in
preparation for the licensure examination are being offered or conducted, nor shall he
be a member of the faculty or of the administration thereof at the time of his
appointment to the Board;
(f) For the Board of Marine Deck Officers, he must have navigated as master mariner
for at least two (2) years on board sea-going vessel and with an aggregate total of at
least seven (7) years of practice as Merchant Marine Officer;

38

(g) For the Board of Marine Engineer Officers, he must have navigated as Marine
Engineer Officer for at least two (2) years on board a sea-going vessel and with an
aggregate total of at least seven (7) years practice as Merchant Marine Officer;
(h) His last shipboard experience should not be less than one (1) year within a ten (10)year period prior to appointment date;
(i) He must not have been convicted by any competent court of an offense involving
moral turpitude.

Term of Office
The Chairman and members of the Board shall hold office for a term of three (3) years
and until their successors shall have been appointed and duly qualified. Of the
members of the Board first appointed under this Act, one (1) member shall be appointed
and hold office as Chairman for three (3) years; two (2) members for two (2) years; and
two (2) members for one (1) year

Vacancy and Removal of Board Members


The President may remove any member of the Board upon the recommendation of the
Commission on the following grounds:
(a) Neglect of duty or incompetence;

39

(b) Violation or tolerance of the violation of this Act or the Code of Ethics for Maritime
Profession;
(c) Final conviction of an offense involving moral turpitude.
Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the Board shall be filled for the unexpired
portion of the term only.

Powers and Duties of the Boards


(a) To promulgate and adopt the rules and regulations necessary for carrying out the
provisions of this Act;
(b) To supervise and regulate the registration, certification of competency and practice
of the Maritime Profession in the Philippines;
(c) To issue certificates of competency and its corresponding endorsement in
accordance with STCW '78 standards
(d) To administer oaths in connection with the administration of this Act;
(e) To suspend, revoke or reinstate the Certificate of Competency for the practice of the
Maritime Profession;
(f) To adopt an official seal of the Board;
40

(g) To look into the conditions affecting the practice of the Maritime Profession and
whenever necessary, adopt such measures as may be deemed proper for the
enhancement and maintenance of high professional and ethical standards of the
profession;
(h) To prescribe and/or adopt a Code of Ethical and Professional Standards for the
practice of the Maritime Profession
(i) To hear and try administrative cases involving violations of this Act, its Implementing
Rules and Regulations, the Code of Ethics for Professional Maritime Officers and for
this purpose, to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum to secure the appearance
of witnesses and the production of documents in connection therewith;
(j) To prescribe guidelines for the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) program in
coordination with the accredited and integrated association of Merchant Marine Officers;
(k) In accordance with the STCW '78 Convention and its amendments, to prepare,
adopt and issue the syllabi of the subjects for examinations by determining and
preparing the questions which shall strictly be within the scope of the syllabus of the
subjects for examination;
(l) To promulgate, administer and enforce rules and regulations necessary for carrying
out the provisions of this Act, in accordance with the charter of the Professional
Regulation Commission and the STCW '78 Convention, as amended: Provided, That in
case of subsequent or future amendments to any international convention(s)/conference
of which the Philippines is a signatory, the Board is empowered to amend/revise its

41

rules and regulations to conform with the amendments of the said convention(s) without
the need of amending this enabling Act;
(m) To approve, issue, limit or revoke the special dispensation to practice the Maritime
Profession;
(n) To discharge such other powers and functions as the Board may deem necessary
for the practice of the profession and the upgrading, enhancement, development and
growth of merchant marine profession in the Philippines.

EXAMINATION, REGISTRATION AND CERTIFICATE OF COMPETENCY


All applicants for registration for the practice of the Maritime Profession shall be
required to undergo and pass a written technical examination. When conditions and
circumstances warrant, the Board may give walk-in examinations, subject to the
approval of the Commission.

Qualifications of Applicant for Examination


[a] a citizen of the Philippines
[b] of good moral character;
[c] has met standards of medical fitness, particularly with good eyesight and hearing
as certified by a Department of Health [DOH] accredited medical institution
conducting physical and medical examinations for seafarers
42

[d] In the case of Marine Deck/Engineer Officer, must be a graduate of Bachelor of


Science in Maritime Transportation or Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering in
a school, academy, institute, college or university duly recognized by the
Commission on Higher Education [CHED];
[e] For an applicant taking the examination other than that for the Marine
Deck/Engineer Officer must have completed a course approved by the appropriate
government agency.
The Board may suspend or revoke any Certificate of Registration obtained through
misrepresentation made in the application for examination.

Rating in the Board Examinations


To be qualified as having passed the board examination for Marine Deck/Engineer
Officer, a candidate must obtain a weighted general average of seventy percent [70%],
with no grade lower than sixty percent [60%] in any given subject. An examinee who
obtains a weighted general average rating of seventy percent [70%] but obtains a rating
below sixty percent [60%] in any given subject must take the examination in the subject
or subjects where he obtained a grade below sixty percent [60%].
The Board shall submit to the Commission the ratings obtained by each candidate
within fifteen [15] days after the examination, unless extended for just cause. Upon the
release of the results of the examination, the Board shall send by mail the rating

43

received by each examinee at his given address using the mailing envelope submitted
during the examination.
An applicant who fails to pass the examination for the third time shall be allowed to take
another examination only after the lapse of one year

PRACTICE OF MARINE DECK AND ENGINEER OFFICER


No person shall practice or offer to practice the merchant marine profession in the
Philippines or offer himself as a marine deck/engineer officer, or use the title, word,
letter, figure or any sign tending to convey the impression that he is a marine
deck/engineer officer, or advertise or indicate in any manner whatsoever that he is
qualified to perform the work of a marine deck/engineer officer unless he has
satisfactorily passed the licensure examination given by the Board and is a holder of a
valid Certificate of Registration and Certificate of Competency duly issued to him by the
Board of Marine Deck/Engineer Officers.
In compliance with the STCW '78 convention and its amendments, the person holding
senior merchant marine licenses namely, the master, chief officer, chief engineer and
second engineers must be able to function under the management level of responsibility
while the officers-in-charge of navigational and engineering watch must be able to
function under the operational level of responsibility

Recognition of Certificates
44

A foreigner holding a Certificate of Competency issued by his national administration in


accordance with STCW '78 Convention, as amended, requirements shall be issued
special dispensation to serve on board a Philippine registered vessel engaged in the
international trade: Provided, That the Philippine Certificate of Competency issued and
endorsed by the Board shall be reciprocally recognized by the said foreign national
administration to allow the Filipino merchant marine to practice his profession on board
the foreigner's flag vessel.

Integration of Marine Deck/Engineer Officers and Code of Ethics


All marine deck/engineer officers shall be integrated into one national organization
which shall be recognized by the Board and by the Commission as the one and only
integrated and accredited association of Marine Deck/Engineer Officers. A Marine
Deck/Engineer Officer duly registered with the Board shall automatically become a
member of the integrated and accredited association of Marine Deck/Engineer Officers,
and shall receive the benefits and privileges appurtenant thereto upon payment of the
required fees and dues. Membership in the integrated and accredited association shall
not be a bar to membership in other associations of marine deck/engineer officers.
The Board shall adopt and approve the Code of Ethics for Marine Deck/Engineer
Officers prescribed by the integrated and accredited national association of Marine
Deck/Engineer Officers.

45

Prohibited Acts
A fine of not less than Twenty thousand pesos [P20,000.00] nor more than One hundred
thousand pesos [P100,000.00] or imprisonment for a period of not less than one [1] year
nor more than six [6] years or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the
court shall be imposed upon:
[a] Any person who engages in the practice of merchant marine profession or
represents himself as a Marine Deck or Engineer Officer without holding a valid
certificate of registration and/or certificate of competency;
[b] Any person who represents or uses the certificate of registration and/or certificate of
competency of another person;
[c] Any person who shall give any false or forged documents for the purpose of
obtaining a certificate of registration and/or certificate of competency;
[d] Any person who shall use a revoked or suspended certificate of registration and/or
invalid or expired professional license
[e] Any person who shall assume, use or advertise the title of Marine Deck/Engineer
Officer under his name, or any description to convey the impression that he is a
professional marine deck/engineer officer without holding a valid certificate of
registration and/or certificate of competency; and
[f] Any person who shall violate the provisions of this Act, its Implementing Rules and
Regulations and the Code of Ethics for Marine Deck/Engineer Officers.

46

Jurisprudence

In the case of Millares v. NLRC32, the issue raised was whether seafarers are
regular or contractual employees whose employment is terminated every time
their contracts of employment expire. The Court explained:
It is clear that seafarers are considered contractual employees.
They cannot be considered as regular employees under Article 280
of the Labor Code. Their employment is governed by the contracts
they sign every time they are rehired and their employment is
terminated when the contract expires. Their employment is
contractually fixed for a certain period of time. They fall under the
exception of Article 280 whose employment has been fixed for a
specific project or undertaking the completion or termination of
which has been determined at the time of engagement of the
employee or where the work or services to be performed is
seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the
season.
As ruled in Brent33 case, there are certain forms of employment which also
require the performance of usual and desirable functions and which exceed one

32 Douglas Millares and Rogelio Lagda vs. National Labor Relations Commission, Trans-Global Maritime
Agency, Inc. and ESSO International Shipping Co., Ltd., GR. No. 110524, 29 July 2002.

33 Brent School, Inc., and Rev. Gabriel Dimache vs. Ronaldo Zamora and Doroteo R. Alegre, GR. No.
48494, 05 February 1990.

47

year but do not necessarily attain regular employment status under Article 280.
Overseas workers including seafarers fall under this type of employment which
are governed by the mutual agreements of the parties.

And as stated in the Coyoca34 case, Filipino seamen are governed by the Rules
and Regulations of the POEA. The Standard Employment Contract governing the
employment of All Filipino seamen on Board Ocean-Going Vessels of the POEA,
particularly in Part I, Sec. C specifically provides that the contract of seamen
shall be for a fixed period. And in no case should the contract of seamen be
longer than 12 months. Moreover, the Court held that it is an accepted maritime
industry practice that employment of seafarers are for a fixed period only.
Constrained by the nature of their employment which is quite peculiar and unique
in itself, it is for the mutual interest of both the seafarer and the employer why the
employment status must be contractual only or for a certain period of time.
Seafarers spend most of their time at sea and understandably, they can not stay
for a long and an indefinite period of time at sea. Limited access to shore society
during the employment will have an adverse impact on the seafarer. The
national, cultural and lingual diversity among the crew during the COE is a reality
that necessitates the limitation of its period.

34 Pablo A. Coyoca vs. NLRC and Seafarers Shipping Inc., GR No. 113658, 31 March 1995.

48

In the case of Remigio v. National Labor Relations Commission 35, it was ruled
(1) that the standard employment contract for seafarers was formulated by the
POEA pursuant to its mandate under Executive Order No. 247 to secure the
best terms and conditions of employment of Filipino contract workers and ensure
compliance therewith, and to promote and protect the well-being of Filipino
workers overseas; (2) that Section 29 of the 1996 POEA Standard Employment
Contract itself provides that all rights and obligations of the parties to the
contract, including the annexes thereof, shall be governed by the laws of the
Republic of the Philippines, international conventions, treaties and covenants
where the Philippines is a signatory; and (3) that even without this provision, a
contract of labor is so impressed with public interest that the Civil Code expressly
subjects it to the special laws on labor unions, collective bargaining, strikes and
lockouts, closed shop, wages, working conditions, hours of labor and similar
subjects.
Thus, the Court has applied the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability
to the case of seafarers. In Philippine Transmarine Carriers v. NLRC36, seaman
Carlos Nietes was found to be suffering from congestive heart failure and
cardiomyopathy and was declared as unfit to work by the company-accredited
physician. The Court affirmed the award of disability benefits to the seaman,

35 Bernardo Remigio vs. NLRC, C.F. Sharp Crew Mgt., Inc., and New Commodore Cruise Line, Inc., GR
No. 159887, 12 April 2006

36 Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. vs. NLRC, POEA, and Carlos Nietes, GR No. 123891, 28
February 2001

49

citing ECC v. Sanico, GSIS v. CA, and Bejerano v. ECC that disability should not
be understood more on its medical significance but on the loss of earning
capacity. Permanent total disability means disablement of an employee to earn
wages in the same kind of work, or work of similar nature that [he] was trained for
or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which a person of [his] mentality
and attainment could do. It does not mean absolute helplessness. It likewise
cited Bejerano v. ECC, that in a disability compensation, it is not the injury which
is compensated, but rather it is the incapacity to work resulting in the impairment
of ones earning capacity.
The same principles were cited in the more recent case of Crystal Shipping, Inc.
v. Natividad. In addition, the Court cited GSIS v. Cadiz and Ijares v. CA that
permanent disability is the inability of a worker to perform his job for more than
120 days, regardless of whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.

In Vergara v. Hammonia Maritime Services, Inc. 37, it is said that the standard
terms of the POEA Standard Employment Contract agreed upon are intended to
be read and understood in accordance with Philippine laws, particularly, Articles
191 to 193 of the Labor Code, as amended, and the applicable implementing
rules and regulations in case of any dispute, claim or grievance.
The provisions of the Labor Code, as amended, and implementing rules are to be
read hand in hand with the first paragraph of Section 20(B)(3) of the 2000 POEA
Standard Employment Contract which reads:

37 Jesus E. Vergara vs. Hammonia Maritime Services, Inc. and Atlantic Marine Ltd., GR No. 172933,
06 October 2008

50

Upon sign-off from the vessel for medical treatment, the seafarer is
entitled to sickness allowance equivalent to his basic wage until he
is declared fit to work or the degree of permanent disability has
been assessed by the company-designated physician[,] but in no
case shall this period exceed one hundred twenty (120) days.

51