P10 million fine on shipowners for oil spill eyed in House bill
A bill imposing as much as P10 million penalty to shipowners who will be found guilty of discharge or emission of oil, sewage, garbage and other harmful substances and pollutants into Philippine seas has been filed in the House of Representatives.
Negros Occidental Representative Kiko Benitez made the proposal under his House Bill 7515 which he filed after the sinking of a tanker carrying 800,000 liters of oil off Naujan, Mindoro.
The bill provides for the strict enforcement of the regulations under the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and its 1978 Protocol, or MARPOL 73/78, which the Philippines signed in 2001.
"We signed MARPOL 73/78 in 2001. An implementing legislation is long overdue. We must keep our commitment to international law, and perform our responsibility to protect the environment," Benitez said.
“We cannot let another oil spill happen again. Its damage to the marine environment is just too much. It is impossible to express the negative impact to livelihoods and marine ecosystems in monetary terms,” he added.
Likewise, Benitez’s proposal authorizes the Maritime Industry Authority to strictly enforce shipbuilding standards and ensure that vessels are constructed and equipped with materials and apparatus to prevent discharge or emission of oil, sewage, garbage and other harmful substances and pollutants into Philippine seas.
The measure mandates the Philippine Coast Guard to apprehend and detain ships for violations of these regulations.
“This bill is crucial in protecting our marine wealth and promoting the blue economy to ensure sustainable development of our marine resources for the benefit of present and future generations,” Benitez said.
Experts have earlier warned that the oil spill may reach up to Cuyo island in Palawan and more areas.—LDF, GMA Integrated News