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DOTC issues new rules for Coast Guard law

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) approved the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) for a new Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) law. DOTC Secretary Jose de Jesus approved the IRRs for Republic Act 9993 or the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Law of 2009 on April 8, the PCG said on Tuesday. "RA 9993 virtually empowers the PCG and takes from the (Maritime Industry Authority) its maritime safety enforcement function as per RA 9295 or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004," the Coast Guard said in an article posted on its website. According to the PCG, the new law was tackled in Congress when the country’s shipping safety record was beset with numerous maritime incidents. Congress then saw the need for the law to take a drastic turn to address problems caused by antiquated laws and the inadequacy of the government’s setup at the time. RA 9993 and its IRR institutionalized the transfer of the PCG from Philippine Navy to the DOTC as an attached agency. It further establishes the PCG as a distinct, uniformed and armed service of the country provided that in times of war, the PCG shall be placed under the Department of National Defense (DND). "The promulgation of the said IRR to put to effect RA 9993, is a result of a series of consultations with various government agencies and the maritime stakeholders around the country," PCG commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said. "This is a product of participatory exercise involving all parties who contributed in order to make sure that a responsive IRR that can address prevailing and emerging challenges in the maritime industry is promulgated," Tamayo added. Under the PCG Law of 2009 and its IRR, the PCG is vested with crucial functions that can be summed up as:
  • Maritime Safety (MARSAF)
  • Marine Environmental Protection (MAREP)
  • Maritime Search and Rescue (MARSAR)
  • Maritime Law Enforcement (MARLEN)
  • Maritime Security (MARSEC). The other salient features of the IRR include:
  • A more defined authority for the PCG to conduct random inspection on all merchant ships and vessels to ensure and enforce compliance with safety standards;
  • Power to detain, stop or prevent a ship or vessel which does not comply with safety standards;
  • Power to conduct emergency readiness evaluation on merchant marine vessels;
  • Protection of the marine environment from off-shore sources of pollution;
  • Power to remove, destroy or tow to port, sunken or floating hazards to navigation, including illegal fish traps and vessels;
  • Power or clear authority to board and inspect all types of vessels, watercraft and off-shore floating facilities to enforce all applicable laws, to include the Revised Penal Code, while within the country’s maritime jurisdiction. The PCG is likewise vested with the power to promulgate rules and regulations, prescribe administrative penalties and fines, and collect necessary fees and charges. Complying with the international maritime regulatory regime system, the IRR also appoints the PCG as the sole Port State Control Authority of the country vested with the power to enforce relevant international conventions and treaties. – VVP/MRT, GMA News