THE House of Representatives approved on second reading Tuesday a measure seeking to define the basic rights of seafarers.

In a voice vote, the chamber approved House Bill No. 8057, which lays down acceptable work conditions and terms of employment for seafarers.

The bill recognizes the right to engage in collective bargaining; to access educational advancement and training opportunities; and to be provided clear terms and conditions of employment and company policies.

It provides for free legal representation for seafarers who cannot afford it.

The bill tasks the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, the Small Business Corp., other government financial institutions, as well as private banks, to set up a special credit window with preferential or subsidized interest rates “that will serve the financial needs” of seafarers for alternative livelihood, personal advancement, and education.”

The bill also encourages local government units to reduce local taxes, fees and charges imposed on transactions entered into by seafarers in connection with their profession.

The Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Coast Guard, and Maritime Industry Authority have been designated as drafters of the proposed law’s implementing rules and regulations. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza