Tolentino pushes for stiff penalties for refusal to aid persons in distress at sea
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino is pushing for the passage of a bill that will slap a maximum P20 million fine, among others, on those who will refuse or would fail to give assistance to persons in distress at sea.
Tolentino made the call following the apology issued by the owner of a Chinese vessel responsible for sinking of a Filipino boat and abandoning its crew at sea last June.
Tolentino has also earlier called on the Philippine government to pursue a civil claim for damages for the 22 Filipino fishermen who lost their livelihood due to the loss of their boat.
“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,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Senate Bill No. 209, or the Good Samaritan At Sea Law, seeks to ensure that those guilty of jeopardizing the lives of persons at sea and those who refuse to lend assistance during emergencies at sea would not go unpunished.
Under the bill, which Tolentino filed in July 2019, a vessel’s captain, crew and passengers shall be held liable for refusing or failing to render assistance to persons in distress at sea.
In case of a collision, the bill states that the ship’s captain and crew should 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 call, the ship captain should inform the vessel in need that they are on their way to rescue them.
In Tolentino’s proposed measure, vessels unable to respond to a distress alert for some special circumstances must enter in its log-book the reason for failing to proceed to the assistance of the persons in distress and inform the appropriate search and rescue service or the Philippine Coast Guard of the situation.
The senator added that violators would be fined not less than P5 million but not more than P10 million.
If the violator is the cause or part of the ship that caused the distress at sea, he said the fine shall be not less than P10 million but not more than P20 million.
Aside from the fines, an additional imprisonment penalty of not less than six months but not more than one year shall be imposed on violators who fail to help persons in distress within Philippine waters, he said.
“If the violator is the cause or part of the ship that caused the distress at sea, an additional penalty of imprisonment of not less than one year and one day but not more than two years shall be imposed on them,” he added.
Repeating offenders, Tolentino further said, shall be dealt with the maximum penalties allowed.
The senator also noted that under the bill, no foreign person shall be deported without the payment of the imposed judicial and/or administrative fines and service of sentence, if any. /muf
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