Press Release
September 13, 2021



On 2 July 2019, this Representation filed Senate Bill No. 209, otherwise known as the Good Samaritan at Sea Law, which seeks to provide rules on the duty to render assistance at sea in accordance with relevant international conventions to which the Philippines is a state party and for other purposes.

This bill which shall be known as the "Good Samaritan at Sea Law", aims to implement provisions in International Maritime instruments ratified by the Philippine Government concerning safety of life at sea and the duty to render assistance to persons in distress at sea to which the Philippines is a state party to including:

1. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and its Protocols of 1978 and 1988 and Agreement of 1996;

2. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982

As a key player in the global maritime industry it is but imperative for the country 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 to protect the very lives of the thousands of Flipinos at sea.

All that we have aside from being signatories to SOLAS 1974 and other international conventions involving the international maritime organization are mere soft law participation, which is not self-executing. In other words, it cannot be implemented by a Philippine court and would thus need a domestic law. This is in line with the 1987 Constitution "international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation".

That is why I filed Senate Bill 209 to address this gap. And with the passage of this bill, we will now not be at the mercy of a vacant or a gap insofar

Having emphasized the need to honor our commitments to the international community, it behooves upon us to rise up to the challenge of navigating through the unchartered realm of international law in order to protect our resources and uphold the rights of every Filipino.

While cooperation with the international community is important, the welfare and benefit of the Filipino people should always be a priority. Of all the country's resources, it is the people that are most treasured, protected and must be served.

Hence, may the 18th Congress endeavor to enact more meaningful legislation to fortify, defend and uphold the rights and satisfy our obligations for the benefit of our countrymen as well as our dignity.

Taking cue from other nations that have found it essential to protect their resources and uphold their people's rights, may the 18th Congress enact similar legislation such as the United States Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, among others, wherein the United States has declared that their Constitution, civil and political laws, as well as criminal and federal regulatory laws, are extended and applicable to their subsoil, seabed, and all artificial islands and all other installations attached thereon.

The protection and safety of our people require our foresight in drafting laws as we tread towards further utilization of both living and non-living resources in our seas.

This humble Representation calls on this Chamber's support in the passage of this Representation's proposed Senate Bill No. 209, the Good Samaritan at Sea Law, that aims to implement the provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. With this law, Filipino fishermen will be afforded additional safety as they pursue their way of life.

This Representation has likewise filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 12 or the resolution in support of the prohibition of fisheries subsidies in the World Trade Organization. To lessen the perceived disadvantage of Filipino fishermen against foreign entities and to protect the resources in the sea against illegal, unreported, unregulated or IUU fishing, over-capacity and overfishing, fisheries subsidies that contribute to these problems must be eradicated internationally.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6 targets that by 2020, the United Nations member-states should prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to the aforementioned problems and refrain from introducing new subsidies by 2020. The realization of this goal would level the playing field for the Filipino fishermen as they will be able to perform at the same level as their foreign counterparts. Resources will be more equitably exploited and protected from over-utilization while enhancing the lives of the Filipinos.

The need to stay true to our international commitments is not just to maintain our international standing but, most importantly, in order to uphold the rights and dignity of our people and protect the nations' honor.

This humble Representation wishes to end this speech with the words of Gat Andres Bonifacio in his work, "Ang Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog," circa 1896, and I quote:

"Kaya O mga kababayan! Ating idilat ang bulag na kaisipan at kusang igugol sa kagalingan ang ating lakas, sa tunay at lubos na pag-asa na mag-tatagumpay sa nilalayong kaginhawa-han ng ating bayang tinubuan."

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