SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
17 September 2021 06:41:45 PM
A technical working group (TWG) of the House Committee on Ecology convened on Friday to discuss the draft substitute bill on maritime pollution. The proposed “Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act” seeks to prevent and control pollution from ships and provide penalties. The bill consolidated House Bill 409 filed by Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, HB 739 by Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, HB 1865 by Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, HB 2268 by Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun, HB 4204 by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, and HB 6739 by MAGDALO Party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III. In his opening statement, TWG Chairman and Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez emphasized the need to conserve the country’s marine resources, as well as to preserve and protect the marine ecosystem. He described the Philippines as part of the coral triangle, one of the most diverse marine habitats in the world, and as a result, is the eighth largest fish producer in the world. Benitez said almost 88 percent of the country's territory is actually maritime. “We must therefore conserve our marine resources and preserve and protect our marine ecosystem. We must prevent any damage to our maritime wealth and heritage and safeguard it for future generations,” he said. Benitez said the bill on maritime pollution represents a firm commitment to this cause. Several provisions of the bill were discussed during the meeting. These include the provisions on the: 1) exemptions applicable to the discharge of garbage; 2) marine environmental management fund (MEMF); 3) discharge of emission of harmful substances; 4) powers and functions of the Philippine Coast Guard; 5) Maritime Industry (MARINA); and 6) Department of Transportation (DOTr). The group will meet again pending the submission of the official position papers of the different government agencies, from the academe and from the private sector on the said substitute measure.