Rights Pamphlet - Philippines

Jun 1, 2004

Filipino Seafarers’ Rights under Philippine Law

CENTER FOR SEAFARERS' RIGHTS
The Seamen's Church Institute
241 Water Street
New York, New York 10038, USA
Telephone: (212) 349-9090 Fax: (212) 349-8342
E-mail: csr@seamenschurch.org

Filipino seafarers have certain rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution, statutes and regulations of the Republic of the Philippines.

This booklet was written to explain the process you should follow if you have questions about your rights. It will also help you find assistance if your rights are violated.

This booklet is based on the Philippine Republic Act No. 8042 (RA 8042) and its implementing rules and regulations, also known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.” It is also based on the rules and regulations of the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and information from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Board of Arbiters. References in parentheses are to this act, its implementing rules and regulations, the POEA Rules Governing Overseas Employment, and other laws of the Republic of the Philippines.

Some sections of the law and forms for official documents may have changed since the publication of this booklet. This is not a statement of the law, but only a quick reference guide based on the laws, regulations, and procedures observed in the Republic of the Philippines.

The Center for Seafarers’ Rights is ready to assist all seafarers who think that their rights to fair and decent working conditions have been denied. The Center also assists seafarers who have a serious dispute with their employer or need to be repatriated.

We encourage questions, comments, and suggestions from readers of this booklet. Comments and contributions regarding this text are welcome so that corrections and improvements may be incorporated into future editions.

This booklet is available free of charge but may not be reprinted without permission. Copies of this and other publications of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights are available at most seafarers’ centers and on our website:

http://www.seamenschurch.org

As a Filipino seafarer, your legal rights come from two primary sources. The Philippine Republic Act No. 8042, also known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”, is an essential source that establishes legal rights to wages, benefits, repatriation, termination, and conditions aboard ship. The other fundamental source of your legal rights is your contract.

YOUR CONTRACT

Your contract is the most important document concerning your employment. The laws of the Philippines require that the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) approve your contract before you begin to work overseas. (POEA Rules, Book IV, Rules 1,2) Shipping companies and employment agencies are required to use the Revised Standard Employment Terms and Conditions Governing Employment of Filipino Seafarers On-Board Ocean-Going Vessels (POEA Standard Employment Terms and Conditions) or a collective bargaining agreement that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of the POEA Standard Employment Terms and Conditions. Any variations or additions to the terms of this contract shall be made only with the approval of the POEA. The POEA Standard Employment Terms and Conditions is produced by the POEA and is designed to protect your rights. (POEA Rules, Book V, Rule 2, §3)

RESOLVING EMPLOYMENT RELATED DISPUTES

The standard contract, like most employment contracts, includes a cooperative grievance mechanism for resolving employment related disputes. Under the POEA Standard Employment Terms, you have a right to ask questions about your employment. If you and your employer use the POEA Standard Employment Terms and Conditions, any questions regarding your employment should be addressed in the following procedure outlined in Section 16 of the POEA Standard Employment Terms.

You should seek assistance in the following order:

1. Your Department Head:

   1. If you are in the Deck, Radio, or Catering Department, your department head is the Chiefmate.
   2. If you are in the Engine Department, your department head is the Chief Engineer.
   3. If you are in the Catering and/or Hotel Department on a passenger ship, your department head is the Chief Steward and/or Purser.

Your department head will interview you as soon as convenient with the goal of answering your inquiries and solving any problems.

2. Master:

If you are not satisfied after talking with your department head, you may request an interview with your ship’s Master. The department head should arrange for you to see the master who should personally deal with the problem.

3. Management/The Government:

If you are still dissatisfied after speaking with your ship’s master, you may appeal your situation to your ship’s management company or to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office or to the consular officer overseas. The master must provide you with the necessary facilities to transmit your questions to the organization of your choice.

The grievance procedure requires that your questions be submitted in writing. The following format is suggested:

Your Name:______________ Position:________

Ship:_____________ Department:____________

Department Head’s Name:__________________

Questions or Problems:__________________

Solutions you would like to discuss:

_____________________________________________________________

Date/Time: _________________________

Be sure that all decisions or actions taken as a result of this procedure are documented properly for the protection of you and your ship.

If you or your employer do not use the POEA Standard Employment Terms and Conditions or if your contract is not approved by the POEA, you may be subject to procedures different from those listed here. Furthermore, it means that your employment is irregular and does not follow the normal governmental procedures. You should consult your contract to see if it gives you specific rights and responsibilities in handling these matters. You should also bring the matter to the attention of a Philippine Labor Attaché.

FURTHER LEGAL REMEDIES

When your questions cannot be resolved through the contract grievance procedure, the law allows you to turn to other organizations. If necessary, you may make a formal complaint against your ship and have that complaint heard by a government agency. The POEA will provide the assistance you need in filing and resolving your complaint. (POEA Rules, Book VIII, §3,4)

The procedure for making your inquiry depends on the nature of the problem. The following sections explain how to handle the most common questions about your employment.

QUESTIONS ARISING FROM THE EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP

The NLRC has original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases arising out of an employer-employee relationship or any contract dispute involving Filipino workers for overseas employment. The NLRC will hear cases regarding issues such as, but not limited to the following (POEA Rules, Book VII, Rule 1):

1. violation of the terms and conditions of your contract;
2. interpretation and enforcement of your contract;
3. money claims against your employer or their agent in the Philippines;
4. claims for employment related death and disability benefits; and
5. violation of or non-compliance with any compromise agreement between parties in an overseas employment contract.

Who may file an inquiry: You may file an inquiry with the NLRC in person or through your attorney. The inquiry must be filed under oath and you must have already used the grievance machinery, if any, provided for in your contract. (NLRC Rules and Regulations) You have a right to legal counsel whenever you ask the government to resolve your dispute. See page 19 of this booklet.

Where to file your inquiry: The POEA will provide you with information on how and where to file your inquiry. Addresses of POEA regional offices are listed on page 22 of this booklet.

Where will your inquiry be heard: Your inquiry will be heard either by an adjudication office of the NLRC or by the hearing officer at the regional office or regional extension unit where you filed your inquiry. (NLRC Rules and Regulations)

What your Inquiry should include: You or your attorney must make your inquiry under oath. It must contain, at a minimum, the following items:

1. your name and address (and that of any other persons making the inquiry with you);
2. the name and address of the company(s) you are complaining about;
3. the name of the ship that you worked on;
4. the reason for your inquiry or an explanation of the specific offense or omission;
5. the date when the problem occurred;
6. the amount of money you are owed, if any; and
7. the relief you want to receive

It is best to be as specific as possible about the reasons for your inquiry. You may want to highlight the major reasons for your inquiry at the beginning of the document.

You should also attach copies of any and all documents pertinent to your inquiry, if possible. (NLRC Rules and Regulations)

When you file an inquiry with the NRLC, it must also include a cover page with a caption and title.

Caption and Title: The following are examples of standard caption and title pages for each type of case.

(NLRC Rules and Regulations)

In each of these examples, you should enter your name on the first line as complainant.

You should enter the shipping company’s name or the name of the company’s agency in the Philippines or both on the second line as Respondent(s).

The NRLC office will provide the information to be filled in for the case number when you file your inquiry. A sample of a completed complaint appears at the end of this booklet.

A. For purely employer-employee relation’s cases:

(if a case has both employer-employee relations components and recruiting violation components, two separate cases must be filed, one to the NLRC and one to the POEA. Captions for POEA cases are listed in the section entitled Questions About recruiting.)

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Labor and Employment

National Labor Relations Commission

Adjudication Office

Metro Manila

________________

Complainant/s,

-versus- NLRC Case No. ADJ(L)yr/mo/no.

________________

Respondent/s

X-------------------X

B. For disciplinary cases:

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Labor and Employment

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration

Adjudication Office

Metro Manila

________________

Complainant/s,

-versus- POEA Case No. ADJ(L)yr/mo/no.DA

________________

Respondent/s

X-------------------X

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT RECRUITING

The POEA has original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving illegal recruiting practices. These practices include, but are not limited to the following (POEA Rules, Book VI, Rule

1, §1,2):

· charging you a fee for any recruiting purpose where the fee is excessive or contrary to what is prescribed by the POEA;
· misrepresentation through false or deceptive advertising, or fraud;
· inducing you to leave a job you already have for another unless the transfer is designed to liberate you from oppressive conditions;
· influencing or attempting to influence any company not to employ you when you have applied for a job through that agency;
· substituting or altering your contract once it is approved by the POEA;
· unreasonably withholding travel or other pertinent documents from you for monetary considerations; and
· falsifying or altering travel documents· misrepresentation through false or deceptive advertising, or fraud;

Who may file a report: Any person may file a report in writing and under oath concerning recruitment violations and/or illegal recruitment practices. (POEA Rules, Book VI, Rule 2, §1)

If you have been a victim of any of these practices, you may file a complaint/report with the POEA.

Where to file a report: You may file your complaint/report either with the adjudication branch of the POEA in the national capital region or with the regional office in the region where you were recruited. (POEA Rules, Book VI, Rule 1, §4)

If you file a complaint/report at the national capital office of the POEA, you or the other party may request that it be removed to the regional office before the issues are joined. Removal requires the approval of the POEA. (POEA Rules, Book VI, Rule 1, §4)

What your report should include:

1. your name and address (and that of any other person(s) making the report with you);
2. the name and address of the company you are reporting;
3. the nature of the complaint;
4. an explanation of the cause/grounds of the complaint;
5. when and where the action complained of happened;
6. the amount of the claim, if any; and
7. the relief you seek.

You should attach all documents or papers related to the report if possible. (POEA Rules, Book VI, Rule 2, §3)

It is best to make the reasons in your complaint as specific as possible. You may want to highlight the major reasons for your inquiry at the beginning of the document.

When you file an inquiry with the POEA, it must also include a cover page with a caption and title.

Caption and Title: The following are examples of standard caption and title pages for cases filed in the national and regional offices of the POEA. (POEA Rules, Book VI, Rule 2, §2)

In each of these examples, you should enter the shipping company’s name or the name of the company’s agency in the Philippines or both on the line as Respondent(s).

The POEA office will provide the information to be filled in for the case number when you file your inquiry.

A. For recruiting violations reported to the national POEA office in Manila:

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Labor and Employment

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration

Adjudication Office

Metro Manila

In the matter of Violation of

Recruitment Rules & Regulations/

Regulations Implementing the Labor

Code, as amended, Circulars, etc.

-versus- POEA Case No.RRB (L)yr/mo/no.

___________________

Respondent/s

X--------------------------------------X

B. For recruiting violations reported to a regional POEA office:

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office No.________________________

___________________________

Province/District

In the Matter of Violation of

Recruitment Rules & Regulations/

Regulations Implementing the Labor Code, as amended, Circulars, etc.

-versus- RO Case No. ADJ (L)yr/mo/no.RV

__________________

Respondent/s

X-----------------------X

 

REPATRIATION

When you are recruited for employment and placed overseas, your repatriation to the Philippines must be paid for by the agency that recruited and placed you. (RA 8042 §15)

If your company fails to repatriate you, you should contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate. The POEA or Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) officer at any embassy or consulate of the Philippines can assist you with your repatriation. You will not be charged for your repatriation, if your employer failed to repatriate you as required by law. (RA No. 8042, §15. Implementing Rules, §53, 54)

In the event of a natural disaster, war, or other state of emergency, the Philippine government will undertake to repatriate all overseas Filipinos in the threatened area. You should contact the embassy for further information and to request repatriation. (RA No. 8042, §15. Implementing Rules, §56)

It may be easier to make your request by mail or fax, and in some cases, your contract will require written notice of your desire to be repatriated. In those circumstances, we recommend the following form for your request:

Date

name and address of your company

or,

name and address of the nearest office of the government of the Philippines.

Dear Sir or Madam:

My name is YOUR NAME. I am a Filipino citizen employed as a seafarer aboard the ship YOUR SHIP. I want to be repatriated to the Philippines for the following reasons:__________________________

My employment contract will expire/expired on DATE YOUR CONTRACT ENDS/ENDED. I can be contacted at the following address: ADDRESS WHERE YOU CAN BE REACHED or through telephone no. PHONE NUMBER WHERE YOU CAN BE REACHED.

Please arrange for my repatriation as soon as possible.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

YOUR SIGNATURE
 

 

WORK RELATED DISABILITY

If you should suffer work-related injuries or illness during the term of your contract, the employer must continue to pay your wages during the time on board the vessel. Depending on the nature of the work-related injuries and the extent of medical attention/treatment required, your employer might be liable for certain medical expenses. For further information regarding this matter, refer to Section 20 of the POEA Standard Employment Terms.

DEATH

In the event of a work-related death, the employer shall pay his beneficiaries the Philippine Currency equivalent to the amount of Fifty Thousand US dollars (US $50,000) and an additional amount of Seven Thousand US dollars (US $7,000) to each child under the age of 21 but not exceeding four children, at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment.

Where the death is caused by warlike activity while sailing within a declared war zone or war risk area, the compensation payable shall be doubled.

The employer shall also pay the beneficiaries of the seafarer the Philippine currency equivalent to the amount of One Thousand US dollars (US $1,000) for burial expenses at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment.

In addition, the employer shall pay the beneficiary all outstanding obligations due to the seafarer in the Contract.

The benefits mentioned above are separate and distinct from whatever other benefits the seafarer is entitled to under Philippine laws such as from the Social Security System, OWWA, Employees’ Compensation Commission, Pag-ibig or the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, if applicable.

The employer that hired them must repatriate Filipino seafarers who die as a result of work-related injury or illness with their personal belongings. (RA 8042, § 15)

If you are having difficulties repatriating the remains or personal effects of a Filipino seafarer, you should contact the nearest Philippine Embassy, Consulate, or POEA office for assistance. For further information regarding this matter, refer to Section 20 of the POEA Standard Employment Terms.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE

Filipino migrant workers are entitled to free legal assistance under some circumstances. (RA 8042, §§ 13,20) If you have any of the problems discussed in this booklet, you should contact the POEA or the OWWA for legal advice and assistance. The POEA and the OWWA should honor all requests for such assistance. (POEA Rules, Book VIII, §§ 2-4)

When you are overseas, legal assistance is available through the Philippine Embassy. (RA 8042, §19) If there is no Philippine Embassy at your location, you may obtain legal assistance by contacting the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate.

SAMPLE COMPLAINT

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Labor and Employment National Labor Relations Commission Adjudication Office Metro Manila

___________________________

Complainant/s,

-versus- POEA Case No. ADJ(L)yr/mo/no.

Crocodile Shipping Co., Ltd.

and DLC Manning, Inc.
Manila, Philippines

Respondent/s

X-----------------------------------X

My name is YOUR NAME. I live at YOUR ADDRESS.

I am filing this complaint against my employer, Crocodile Shipping Co., Ltd. of 241 Water Street, New York, NY. I am also filing against their agent in Manila, DLC Manning, Inc. I worked for Crocodile Shipping for six months aboard the M/V Crocodile. My complaint is that my contract was terminated early without cause and I was not paid the wages I earned. Crocodile Shipping hired me on January 2, 1998. The period of my contract was 10 months. I was employed as an A/B aboard the M/V Crocodile. A copy of my contract is attached at the end of this complaint.

On July 17, 1998 the Crocodile made a port call at Port Newark, NJ, USA. When we arrived in port the master told me my contract had ended and I should go ashore. I said my contract was not up and that I should not be put ashore. He told me I was terminated and to get off the ship.

When I left the ship I asked to be paid the $1800 that Crocodile Shipping owes me, but the master refused. I gave him a written request for repatriation, but he said that was my problem. I contacted the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, DC, and they arranged for me to be sent home.

This claim is for the $1800 in wages Crocodile Shipping owes me. I seek relief in the form of payment of my wages and any available damages.
 

 

WHERE TO GET HELP

The following is a list of Regional POEA Centers and Regional Extension Units where you can find help.

LUZON REGION

  • LA  UNION
    POEA Regional Center for Luzon
    3rd Floor, Tabora Building
    P. Burgos St.
    San Fernando City
    Telefax: (072) 242-5608/4335
    E-mail: rc_luzon@poea.gov.ph, poeareu1@sflu.com
  • BAGUIO CITY
    Regional Extension Unit – CAR
    Benitez Court Compound,
    Magsaysay Ave.
    Baguio City
    Telefax: (074) 442-9478/445-4209
    E-mail: reu_baguio@poea.gov.ph
  • SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA
    Satellite Office
    3rd Floor, FS David Building
    McArthur Highway
    Dolores
    San Fernando, Pampanga
    Tel.: (045) 961-3910/961-1305
    Fax No.: (045) 961-2195
  • CALAMBA CITY, LAGUNA
    Satellite Office - Region IV
    Room 1 Hectan Commercial Center
    National Highway, Brgy. Halang Calamba
    Laguna
    Telefax: (049) 545-3984
    E-mail: calamba@poea.gov.ph
  • LEGASPI CITY
    Satellite Office
    OWWA U5, Ground Floor
    ANST Building, Washington Drive
    Legaspi City
    Telefax: (052) 481-4935
    E-mail: legaspi@poea.gov.ph or
    poea-leg@globalink.net.ph

VISAYAS REGION

  • CEBU CITY
    Regional Center for Visayas
    3rd Floor, Gemini Building
    719 M. J. Cuenco Ave.
    Cebu City
    Tel.: (032) 416-7049/416-7056
    Fax: (032) 416-7051
    E-mail: rc_visayas@poea.gov.ph or poearv7@yahoo.com
  • ILOILO CITY
    Regional Ext. Unit-Region VI
    2nd Floor, S. C. Divinagracia Building
    Quezon Street
    Iloilo City
    Telefax: (033) 335-1058/336-8611
    E-mail: reu_iloilo@poea.gov.ph
  • BACOLOD CITY
    Satellite Office
    3rd Floor, Maybank Building
    San Juan St.
    Bacolod City
    Tel.: (034) 434-7391
    E-mail: bacalod@poea.gov.ph
  • TACLOBAN CITY
    POEA Satellite Office
    DOLE Compound, Trece Martirez
    Tacloban City
    Telefax: (053) 321-7134
    E-mail: tacloban@poea.gov.ph

MINDANAO REGION

  • DAVAO CITY
    POEA Regional Center for Mindanao
    2nd Floor AMYA II Building
    Quimpo Blvd corner, Tulip Drive
    Davao City
    Telefax: (082) 297-7429
    Tel.: (082) 297-7640 / 297-7650 / 297-7428
    E-mail: rc_mindanao@poea.gov.ph
  • CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY
    POEA Regional Ext. Unit-Region X
    3rd Floor, Acersyant Building
    Kauswagan Highway
    9000 Cagayan de Oro City
    Telefax: (088) 857-4920
    E-mail: reu_cdo@poea.gov.ph, poeaten@cdo.weblinq.com
  • ZAMBOANGA CITY
    POEA Regional Ext. Unit-Region IX
    2nd Floor, Jose Co. Building
    8 Veterans Ave.
    Zamboanga City
    Telefax: (062) 992-0946/992-4042
    E-mail: reu_zambo@poea.gov.ph

Contact information for the OWWA and the NLRC is listed below:

Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration
OWWADEC Building
7th Corner, F.B. Harrison Street
Pasay City, Manila
Tel: 891-7601/ 24
Fax: 833-0187
E-mail: owwamiso@skynet.net

National Labor Relations Commission
PPSTA Building
Banaue Avenue corner, P. Florentine Street
Quezon City
Tel: 743-3407
E-mail: info@nlrc.dole.com.ph

Finally, if you have a question about your rights, or any problem, you may contact:

Center for Seafarers' Rights
241 Water Street
New York, NY 10038
Telephone #: (212) 349-9090
Fax #: (212) 349-8342

E-mail: csr@seamanschurch.org

Website: http://www.seamenschurch.org