Filipino seamen can get sick during the course of their work. They could acquire hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) from operating chipping machines, needle guns, and hand held grinders. They could develop cardiovascular diseases (CVD) from multitasking. They could suffer musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) from working nonstop, or they could have cancer from exposing themselves to beryllium, cadmium, lead, and other toxic substances.
Filipino seamen could also be infected with a sexually transmitted disease for unsafe sexual activities; pandemic and epidemic diseases for visiting ports currently plagued with malaria, cholera, yellow fever, and tuberculosis, among others; or hypertension for excessive stress, fatigue, loneliness, smoking, alcoholic consumption, and lack of physical activity.
The National Conciliation and Meditation Board (NCMB) could help Filipino seafarers be compensated, though. Former bosun Alexander Billones, for one, had figured in an accident when he was hired by the KGJS Fleet Management Manila, Inc. resulting in chronic degenerative disc. He was then repatriated amidst pain in his lower back, hips, and legs. He was just assisted by lawyer Christopher Rey Valmores and conciliator-mediator Gil Caragayan in claiming P3,206,250 for settlement.
Another case is Nestor Balbaboco Jr.’s. He was employed by the North Sea Marine Service Corporation but suffered a spinal injury while on board the M/V Albatross. He was awarded P2,215,720 through NCMB-NCR Chief Leo Ma. Delia Yu’s facilitation.
One more example is Joel Florande. He was sent by the Sea Power Shipping, Inc. to M/V Efstathios where he had a mild stroke. Valmores assisted him to receive P3,636,699 settlement from the Sea Power Shipping Enterprises.
Filipino seafarers are governed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Standard Employment Contract that intends to compensate a “work-related” illness, injury or death. Someone who died of cerebrovascular disease (stroke) 17 days after a contract’s end was not compensable. Another who had been on board for only one month cannot be benefited, too. Only a widower whose seafarer husband died due to colon cancer while on board could be entitled to the benefits that her deceased husband had signed.
“An Act Protecting Seafarers Against Ambulance Chasing and Imposition of Excessive Fees and Providing Penalties Therefor” was also enacted into law to prohibit a person from soliciting an amount in exchange of a legal service to seafarers. It is simply called the Seafarers Protection Act that lowers legal fees from 40%-50% to 10% only. Hopefully, these two regulations would be modified as necessary to protect those who make up more than one-third of all ship workers in the world.
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Harvey Cureg
Notes The global shipping industry, which carries 80 percent of international trade, employs about 1.2 million seafarers, the bulk of whom come from the Philippines. (Source: GMA News Online)