Hello there, Wandering Filipino Senior Citizens (SCs)! I hope you have read and know more about the Bill of Rights for Air Passengers and Carrier Obligations in a previous post. Remember, we have the right to travel, as stated in our constitution1.
RIGHT TO TRAVEL
The right to travel is a basic human right encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within a territory of a country and to leave the country and return to it, according to the Wikipedia page “Freedom of Movement”.2 However, visas and other related requirements could restrict people from entering some countries but as long as these are met, they can visit such destinations.
RIGHT OF FILIPINOS TO TRAVEL
Section 6, Article III (Bill of Rights), of the 1987 Philippine constitution states that “… Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.”3
FILIPINO SEA TRAVELER BILL OF RIGHTS
Your 12 rights as an air passenger are all in “black and white” and I am sure all airlines will follow all provisions therein and we are all protected of such rights. See a related post: Smart Senior: THE AIR PASSENGER BILL OF RIGHTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
But how about our rights as sea travelers? Unfortunately there is still no Bill of Rights for the Filipino Sea Travelers to protect the latter from bad practices of shipping companies.
Let’s face it – most domestic maritime passengers belong to the less-privileged class who cannot afford to use an airplane. Whenever I watch the daily news, my heart goes out to all such passengers who sleep in the terminals, stranded due to delayed or cancelled trips (especially during typhoon season, Christmas, Holy Week and All Saints’ Day), and who barely have food to eat due to their limited budgets. They have no choice when trips are cancelled by the Philippine Coast Guard when travelers are already in seaports. They just have to be patient and wait for the storm to leave and for ships to eventually be allowed to sail – this could take days or even a week!
Worst, for sea mishaps, what are the rights of the survivors and families of passengers who perished? We have heard of their need for monetary assistance and the inadequacy of shipping companies to meet their needs on time.
It’s a nightmare to think that the bill of rights have not been made by authorities and stakeholders. I have heard of this bill was supposed to have been drafted on 20124 – that was six years ago!
Remember, our beloved country is an archipelago, with 7,641 islands (yes, we have more islands now, no longer 7,100 islands, please refer my post: Short and Simple: EXACTLY HOW MANY ISLANDS ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?). Obviously, the easiest and most reasonable inter-island transport is still public water transportation. Traveling by sea especially during “ber” months amidst rough seas is indeed a badge of courage!
I know there is a Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights5 for passengers of an oceangoing cruise on any CLIA6-member cruise liner worldwide. The people responsible for setting the Bill of Rights for the Filipino Sea Travelers could benchmark from this international bill of rights but must add other provisions, e.g., for cancelled trips due to the bad weather to make the stranded sea passengers comfortable and safe in ports/nearby accommodations.
Wake up, wake up, major industry stakeholders: the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and domestic shipping companies. Please get your act together! Perhaps even PAGASA7 could be requested to join the stakeholders for timely weather forecasts/advisories, amidst climate change. It has been 6 years since these rights were raised! It is rainy season now and domestic sea travelers are still not protected!
FILIPINO LAND TRANSPORT COMMUTER BILL OF RIGHTS
And, while I am at it, how about a Bill of Rights for Land Transport Commuters for those riding jeepneys, buses, taxis, Grab, LRT/MRT and other forms of public land transportation?
I pity the bus commuters who, eager to go back to the province during long weekend holidays and important holidays of the year, get stranded in bus terminals, and do not have extra money for an unanticipated stay due to countless reasons for delayed trips. They are victims of abusive operators and drivers, etc. Sigh …
The Philippine land transport commuter/sea passenger has rights and all these must be encapsulated in appropriate Bill of Rights!
I am also calling on Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares (Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services), Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento (District Representative, Lone District of Catanduanes, the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation), and Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Arthur P. Tugade, to help fast track the Bill of Rights for the Filipino Sea Travelers which could be based on the CLIA’s 10-point Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights5 and Bill of Rights for Air Passengers and Carrier Obligations.
Dearest Senior Citizens, let us pray that these bills of rights will be passed during our lifetime. Harsh words to say on my end but perhaps this post will be a small voice appealing to all government authorities and stakeholders concerned.
Do you have your own inputs regarding the bill of rights of passengers by land, water or air? I would love to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”.
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2“Freedom of Movement”, accessed July 10, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Movement.
5TheCruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rightsis a set of 10-passenger rights developed by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)6, adopted by all member-oceangoing cruise liners: (1) The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port. (2) The right to a full refund for a trip that is cancelled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures. (3) The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available. (4) The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures. (5) The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures. (6) The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure. (7) The right to transportation to the ship’s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger’s home city, in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures. (8) The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures. (9)The right to have included on each cruise line’s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations. (10) The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.6
6CLIA is the abbreviation for Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association worldwide, with members like Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, among others. It supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment and is dedicated to promoting the cruise travel experience. Visit its website: www.cruising/org.
7Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is the government agency responsible not only for weather forecasting and advisories in the Philippines but also promotes national progress as well as protects against natural calamities and insure the safety, well-being and economic security of all Filipinos through scientific and technological services in meteorology, hydrology, climatology, astronomy and other geophysical sciences. Visit its website: www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph.