Manila 5th district representative Amado Bagatsing, chairman of the House Committee on Ecology, said House Bill No. 5377 will harmonize institutional arrangements concerning marine pollution while strengthening and complementing enforcement of existing laws on marine pollution.
“The measure shall prevent or minimize marine pollution covering oily substances, harmful and toxic substances, garbage, sewage and other pollutants coming from ships and floating structures,” Bagatsing said.
The measure, which was passed on February 9, also aims to implement the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, or Marpol 73/78, including its annexes and subsequent amendments, Bagatsing added.
Marpol 73/78 is the main international convention preventing pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. The original Marpol was adopted in November 1973, and the Protocol of 1978 was adopted in response to a spate of tanker accidents in 1976-1977.
The House measure, to be known as “Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act,” will cover Philippine ships, wherever they may be found, and foreign-flagged ships, whether or not they are registered with state parties to the Convention.
It also creates the Marine Pollution Adjudication Board which will have quasi-judicial powers to adjudicate marine pollution cases.
The measure streamlines the jurisdiction, responsibilities, and functions of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
MARINA is vested with the right to exercise jurisdiction and regulatory control over Philippine ships. PCG, on the other hand, has the sole and exclusive responsibility of enforcing environmental pollution regimes and standards over all ships operating on Philippine waters, ports, and terminal facilities or harbors.
The measure defines prohibited acts and states their corresponding penalties. Prohibited, among others, is the discharge of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, and other harmful substances in packaged form, through the sewage, or as garbage by any ship, domestic or foreign, while within Philippine waters.
House Bill No. 5377 replaced House Bill Nos. 99, 484, 861, 947, 1932, 2664, 2967, and 3204 of representatives Douglas Hagedorn (3rd District, Palawan), Rodolfo Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City), Lawrence Lemuel Fortun (1st District, Agusan Del Norte), Francisco Ashley Acedillo (Party List, Magdalo), Gary Alejano (Party List, Magdalo), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party List, ABAMIN), and Raymond Democrito Mendoza (Party List, TUCP). – Roumina Pablo
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