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IMPOSE STIFFER PENALTIES FOR NOT RESCUING DISTRESSED PERSONS AT SEA – TOLENTINO

A bill seeking to impose stiff penalties for those who will refuse or fail to help persons in distress at sea has been filed at the Senate.

Senator Francis Tolentino said he filed Senate Bill No. 209, otherwise known as the Good Samaritan At Sea Law, with the aim of implementing international laws concerning safety of life at sea and the duty to render assistance to persons in distress at sea.

“It is imperative for the Philippines to stay true to its commitments to the international community.”

“As a key player in the global maritime industry, it is imperative for the Philippines to stay true to its commitments to the international community to implement and enforce laws affecting maritime safety in order to protect not just the standing of the country in the international community but also to protect the lives of thousands of Filipinos at sea,” Tolentino said.

The solon made the call following the apology issued by the owner of the Chinese vessel, which rammed a Philippine fishing boat near the Recto Bank last June 9.

Under the bill, the master of a ship, crew, and passengers have the duty to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger or lost.

In case of a collision, the vessel’s captain and crew shall also inform the other ship of the name of their vessel, the ship’s port of registry and the nearest port at which it will call.

Upon receiving a distress signal, the master of a ship at sea, which is in a position to help, is bound to proceed with all speed to assist, if possible informing those in distress that the ship is doing so.

If the ship receiving the distress alert is unable or, in the special circumstances of the case, considers it unreasonable or unnecessary to proceed to assist, the master must enter in the log-book the reason for failing to help the persons in distress, and inform the appropriate search and rescue service or Philippine Coast Guard.

“A fine of not less than P5M but not more than P10M will be imposed.”

The bill seeks to impose a fine of not less than P5 million but not more than P10 million for violators.

If the violator is the cause or part of the ship that caused the distress at sea, the fine shall be not less than P10 million but not more than P20 million.

On top of the fines, Tolentino said an additional penalty of not less than six months but not more than one-year imprisonment shall be imposed on violators who fail to help persons in distress within Philippine waters. 

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