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Under Republic Act 10706, entitled “Seafarers Protection Act,” individuals or groups found to have charged seafarers excessively will have to suffer maximum imprisonment of two years, a maximum fine of P100,000 or both.
The same penalty will also apply to every person found to have conspired in this illegal act.
The new law is a combination of Senate Bill 2835 that senators approved last Sept. 21, and House Bill 5268, which the lawmakers passed last Sept. 30 and Aquino signed into law on Nov. 26.
It is a law against ambulance chasing and imposition of excessive fees on Filipino seafarers.
Under the new law, it shall be “unlawful” for any person to solicit, personally or through an agent, from seafarers the pursuit of any claim against their employers for the purpose of recovery of monetary claim, legal interest included, arising from accident, illness or death.
It also provides a threshold fee where suits for recovery of monetary claim or benefit were filed either at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) or the Department of Labor and Employment where such fees “should not exceed 10 percent of the compensation or benefit awarded to the seafarer or his heirs.”
The government observed that some individuals or groups have exploited the compensation system and seafarers have “fallen prey to an unfair scheme” where ambulance chasers charge “exorbitant fees with the promise of huge monetary award.”
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