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Lawmaker welcomes approval of Seafarers Protection Act.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara yesterday lauded President Aquino for recently signing into law the Seafarers Protection Act that is aimed at protecting Filipino seamen from unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of them by charging exorbitant fees and promising huge returns should they fall into an accident, death or illness while on the job.

Aquino signed the measure into law as Republic Act 10706 at the end of November.

"We thank the President and our colleagues for the passage of this law. With the enactment of the Seafarers Protection Act, we hope to put an end to this unjust and corrupt scheme," Angara said.

The law will prevent ambulance chasers, particularly lawyers, from taking advantage of the plight of seafarers, who met an accident, illness or death in the course of their service.

Republic Act 10706 aims to prohibit ambulance chasing or the act of soliciting from seafarers the pursuit of any claim against their employers for the purpose of recovery of monetary benefit, arising from accident, illness or death, in exchange of an amount or fee which shall be deducted from the monetary claim or benefit awarded to the seafarer or their families.

Angara, sponsor of the measure, noted that in most cases, lawyers convince or coerce seafarers into entering agreements for legal or consultancy services to pursue monetary claims or benefit against their employers even when such agreement is not needed.

"Seafarer-claimants end up losing a huge portion of their claims to their lawyers who charge them up to 60 percent of the total amount of the monetary award," said Angara, acting chairman of the Senate committee on labor and human resources.

Under the law, lawyers' fee would be limited to only a maximum of 10 percent of the compensation awarded to the complainant.

Based on the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) data on maritime cases with collective bargaining agreements (CBA), the average monetary benefit awarded to seafarers amounted to P3 million per worker, while based on a recent data from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), sea-based overseas Filipino workers were awarded an average of P1.4 million.


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Title Annotation:Metro
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Dec 3, 2015
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