After Tulfo-Cayetano verbal tussle, Senate OKs Magna Carta of Filipino seafarers bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — A bill seeking to establish the Magna Carta for Filipino seafarers hurdled the Senate plenary on Wednesday following hours-long debates.

Three-term Senator Pia Cayetano had several questions to fine-tune the measure, but they did not sit well with the bill’s sponsor, first-time senator Raffy Tulfo.

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri had to suspend the session a number of times as tensions ran high.

One instance was when Cayetano sought clarification on which government agencies can issue the certification required for Filipino seafarers to be allowed to work.

"Mr. President, tapos na po yung period of interpellation natin. Period of amendments na ito.," said Tulfo.

"Sana ang request ko lang po sabihin lang niya sa akin kung ano ang amendments niya and I will say whether I accept it or not and if I don’t accept it, then I will explain," he also said,

"Humahaba lang po tayo, Mr. President, your honor. Kung gusto niyo po maglatag na ako ng banig dito tsaka unan," Tulfo added, which prompted Zubiri to temporarily suspend the deliberations.

[Translation: Mr. President, the period of interpellation is over. This is the period of amendments. My request is that she can just tell me what her amendments are and I will say whether I accept it or not and if I don’t accept it, then I will explain. This is just taking longer, Mr. President, your honor. If you want, I can lay down a sleeping mat and pillows here.]

Cayetano then replied, "Welcome to legislative work, Mr. President."

After the period of amendments, all 14 senators who remained at the session hall voted to approve the measure past 9 p.m.

The bill was certified as urgent by President Bongbong Marcos, allowing the chamber to fast-track the measure's approval in a single day. Wednesday was the last session day before the month-long congressional break.

Marcos said the bill would “address the recurring deficiencies in our domestic laws pertaining to the training and accreditation of thousands of Filipino seafarers which endanger their employment in the European market in particular, and the global maritime arena, in general."

Tulfo thanked his colleagues for supporting its passage, noting that it was his first pet bill that secured third reading approval.