Marcos urged to reinstate ambulance chasing in Magna Carta for seafarers

Mayen Jaymalin - Philstar.com
Marcos urged to reinstate ambulance chasing in Magna Carta for seafarers
In this Dec. 28, 2011 file photo, seafarers from Magsaysay MOL Marine, Inc. load boxes of relief goods onto a Philippine Coastguard commissioned ship delivering relief goods to the Cagayan de Oro devastated by typhoon Washi.
AFP / Noel Celis, file

MANILA, Philippines — The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to again include Section 59 on ambulance chasing in the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers Law.

“Ambulance chasing” refers to lawyers who reportedly persuade seafarers or workers injured on the job to seek monetary damages from their employers.

Before Marcos signs the measure, Section 59 or the exclusion of judgment and monetary awards must be included again, the ICS and IMEC said in a three-page open letter.

They said the “stakes are simply too high” on ambulance chasing.

“Our global network of shipowners and operators was very disappointed by the removal of Section 59 from the Magna Carta in May this year... The removal of that well-balanced legislative provision puts at serious risk the position of the Philippines as the world’s leading labor supply country,” they said.

The ICS and IMEC also claimed that as of September 2023, the quantifiable damage from ambulance chasing (unrecovered amount due back to shipowners by way of garnishment and restitution of legal cases of Filipino seafarers) had already reached $52.6 million, according to the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs.

“Regrettably, those seafarers that genuinely deserve lawful disability benefits are also not receiving them, as the greater portion is retained by the ambulance chasers,” they said.

Section 59 was deleted from Senate Bill 2221 and House Bill 7325 during the May 20 bilateral conference committee hearing

In 2022 and 2023, Marcos reportedly heeded calls for a long-term resolution on ambulance chasing and formed in January 2023 an International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs, tasked with giving expert advice on major maritime issues affecting Filipino seafarers. — Evelyn Macairan

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