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Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday paid tribute to the late AMOSUP founder and patriarch, Captain Gregorio S. Oca, as one way of marking the entry into force of the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006.

“In marking the Convention’s entry into force, we pay homage and tribute to the people who have been instrumental in realizing the important milestone,” said Baldoz, citing in particular the late Capt. Oca, a key figure in the ratification of the MLC, 2006.

“I am one of those who have personally known him. He was foremost in advancing seafarers’ rights. We worked together for the passage of the convention. I was then the POEA administrator, and he was part of the Philippine contingent to Geneva, where he ensured that the seafarers’ voices could be heard. He was one of the best people to represent our seafarers because he started as one before he became a recognized shipping and maritime trade union leader,” Baldoz recalled.

Capt. Oca, founding chairperson of the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines, or AMOSUP, had become a byword in the seafarers’ world in the last half century and it was under his leadership that AMOSUP grew to become the world’s largest seafarers association with close 90,000 members.

Oca initiated programs in seafarer training, health, and welfare. Under his stewardship, AMOSUP has established hospitals, housing and billeting facilities, schools, and training centers. He founded the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific, a world-class maritime training institution.

“As a recognized maritime expert, he served as a presidential consultant on maritime affairs from 1999 to 2001. The DOLE benefitted from his wise counsel when he represented the sea-based sector in the governing board of the POEA and in the boards of trustees of the OWWA, NMP, and the MTC,” Baldoz recalled.

He also served as President of the Bagong Bayani Foundation, Inc., a private foundation that recognizes the excellence of overseas Filipino workers, and of the Philippine Maritime Education and Training Foundation, Inc.

Capt. Oca was awarded the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Bayani in 2010, the highest distinction given by the government to a civilian. He was also conferred the Papal Award Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice in recognition of his support and services to the Catholic Church. His alma mater, the San Beda College, inducted him into its Hall of Fame for his achievements in shipping, while the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) posthumously accorded him an honor of international category in 2011.

“I consider Capt. Oca not only as a maritime leader, but also a reliable partner of the DOLE and the government who labored hard in promoting seafarers’ welfare and interest. Even while battling a long-time ailment, and until his demise, he championed the protection of Filipino seafarers against piracy in international waters which has become a menace to global seafarers. One of his last contributions was in developing the standard employment contract which contains pro-seafarer provisions, including those on social security benefits,” said Baldoz.

She also updated the maritime sector on implementation of MLC, 2006, saying:

“We already have nine authorized Recognized Organizations (ROs) to inspect and certify Philippine-registered ships (PRVs) engaged in international voyages. As of today, 103 ships, out of the 135 listed PRVs in the MARINA, have already been issued the DMLC Part I, and two vessels have already been issued the Maritime Labour Certificate by Bureau Veritas, one of the nine ROs,” said Baldoz.

“The ROs are our partners in establishing an effective inspection and monitoring system. They have consistently shown us support,” she added.

She further said the ROs are the government’s and the maritime sector’s partners in implementing the following tripartite process issuances on the MLC, 2006:

  1. D.O. No. 129, the “Rules and Regulations Governing the Employment and Working Conditions of Seafarers Onboard Ships Engaged in Domestic Shipping”;
  2. D.O. NO. 130, the “Rules and Regulations on the Employment of Filipino Seafarers Onboard Philippine-registered Ships Engaged in International Voyage”;
  3. D.O. No. 130-A, or “Guidelines on the Authorization of Recognized Organizations to Conduct Inspection and Certification of Philippine-Registered Ships Engaged in International Voyages”; and
  4. Labor Advisory No. 02-2013, the “Requirements for Compliance with MLC, 2006”; and
  5. D.O. No. 132, the “Guidelines on Maritime Occupational Safety and Health”.

Baldoz explained that for domestic ships, the DOLE’s new Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS) will take effect in two days, but the DOLE will first conduct a consultation for the implementation of D. O. No. 129 and the LLCS before visits will be conducted on domestic ships.

The MLC, 2006 entered into force on 20 August, one year after the Philippines deposited its instrument of ratification in the ILO in Geneva on 20 August last year.

With its entry into force, the MLC, 2006 is now the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, complementing the key conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), such as the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS); Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, 1978, as amended (STCW); and Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 73/78 (MARPOL).