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Philippines opens various ports as crew change hubs

Philippine Shipping Update – Manning Industry

By:  Ruben Del Rosario, President, Del Rosario Pandiphil Inc., 3 December 2020 (Issue 2020/20)


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Philippines opens various ports as crew change hubs
In its commitment to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers, the Philippines opened ports to serve as crew change hubs in different parts of the country.
The government, through the Department of Transportation, noted that crew change is essential to seafarers’ safety, health, welfare and employment as they can only serve on board a vessel without leave for a maximum of 11 months based on the International Labour Organization 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).  Considering that the Philippines is home to 25% of the world’s seafaring fleet, the government took steps to guarantee that the health and safety of seafarers and the public are protected.
The Philippines have initially activated the Ports of Manila and Subic as crew change hubs.  This was followed by Port Capinpin in Bataan.  Recently, the Ports of Cebu and now Davao have been activated as well.  Of the remaining identified ports for crew change, only the Port of Batangas remains to be activated.
The government has set up One-Stop-Shops to facilitate crew change in the various ports which may be subject to different regulations and protocols as determined in coordination with the concerned local government units.

NLRC and NCMB updates
The NLRC has now gradually restarted its proceedings and with health and safety in mind, they have issued guidelines on the conduct of proceedings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Single Entry Approach (SEnA) stage, the parties are given 30 days within which to agree on the settlement of the dispute.  The parties may directly contact each other to submit proposals and counter-proposals.  During the SEnA period, they may also seek the intervention of the assigned NLRC Conciliator-Mediator for assistance.  Should it be clear that there will be no settlement forthcoming or upon the lapse of the 30 days period, the Conciliator-Mediator will terminate the SEnA proceedings and provide a referral letter to the complainant necessary for the filing of a complaint.
The NLRC has likewise amended their Rules of Procedure during the existence of the public health emergency.  Mandatory conferences are now suspended and the parties are now required to just file their respective Position Papers.  However, upon motion and solely on the discretion of the Labor Arbiter, a mandatory conference may be held to discuss settlement and the parties are expected to state their terms and conditions of settlement.  The Rules were also amended to suspend the rule on simultaneous filing of position papers by the parties and instead, they may be filed by registered mail or through an authorized courier.
If the parties wish to settle their dispute, they may file a notarized quitclaim and submit it to the NLRC.
With the NCMB, the SEnA proceedings as well as mediation conferences have been in full swing after momentarily being suspended due to quarantine restrictions.  Conferences are conducted on a daily basis by the various Conciliators-Mediators.  The Voluntary Arbitrators of the NCMB have also fared well despite the limitations brought about the situation.  They likewise conduct daily conferences as well as the submission of pleadings.
At this time, settlements done before the Voluntary Arbitrators are likewise more accessible and practical as an immediate order of dismissal is obtained.




Areas of Specialization: Shipping, Labour, Transport, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Insurance, Immigration, Litigation, Arbitration, Intellectual Property
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