2:37 am Monday, February 6, 2017
By: Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho
Newspapers reported that a 19-year-old cadet from India died last March 29, 2017 on board a merchant ship in Brussels, Belgium. Earlier, MV Starlite Atlantic sank the morning of December 26, 2016 off Tingloy, Batangas due to the onslaught of Typhoon Nina. Fourteen of the 33 crewmen onboard the vessel were rescued by the Philippine Coast Guard while 18 others are still missing. On board are eleven (11) students who are undergoing training since October.
Incidents like the sinking of MV Starlite Atlantic and the death of the Indian cadet brings forth the issue of protection of cadets while undergoing training.
The Standard Cadet Training Agreement on Ships Engaged in International Voyage took effect on August 25, 2013 to ensure compliance with the requirements of MLC 2006 in safeguarding the rights of and affording social protection for marine cadets while undergoing the mandatory shipboard training. Cadets are required to undergo the apprenticeship period aboard an actual ship in order to expose students to the real-life applications of the concepts and techniques that they learned in the classroom.
A Cadet refers to a student of maritime education leading to a Bachelor’s degree (BSMT or BSMarE) who is required to undergo on board training to complete the academic requirement for a maritime degreeor technical course. Under Article II (f) of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, marine cadets are included in the definition of a “seafarer” as “any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship to which· this Convention applies;”
It is almost a mirror image of the Standard Employment Contract for Seafarers (SEC) that contains provisions on conditions of employment, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, welfare and social security protection. It likewise mandated that the Sponsoring Company shall provide the Cadet Health protection and medical care in case of training-related illness, injury or hazard or any illness, injury, or hazard occurring during the term of the agreement as well as financial security to cover compensation for a resulting permanent disability or death.
The aim of the Agreement basically includes (a) to recognize that the Cadet is a maritime education student and to declare that the Cadet is not part of the ship’s labor complement; (b) to provide the Cadet with opportunity to be trained on-board ship in accordance with the rules of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and (c) to ensure the safety and well-being of the Cadet during the period of training until the repatriation of the Cadet.
On the other hand, the cadet’s responsibilities, among others, to (a) complete and pass the Onboard Training Program within the period stipulated (b) perform all duties, assignments, designated tasks, and comply with the requirements, regulations, policies, and procedures of the ship; (c) conduct himself/herself in an orderly and respectful manner towards shipmates, passengers, shippers, stevedores, port authorities, and other persons on official business with the ship.
A copy of the Standard Cadet Training Agreement can be viewed at http://www.poea.gov.ph/gbr/2013/8.pdf