Press Release
September 13, 2021

Tolentino backs passage of proposed "Good Samaritan at Sea Law"

MANILA -- Senator Francis 'Tol' N. Tolentino is pushing for the approval of a proposed legislation that seeks mandatory implementation of existing ratified maritime treaties which cover safety of life at sea.

In his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1972, Tolentino said the recent maritime incident along the West Philippine Sea (WPS) that involved the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen must never happen again and those who will fail to render assistance to distress persons must not go unpunished, especially if the incident is within the Philippine territorial waters.

Tolentino, one of the principal author of SB 1972 stressed that being a key player in the global maritime industry, it is only necessary for the Philippine Government stay true to its commitments to the international community to implement and enforce laws affecting maritime safety.

SB 1972 or the proposed "Good Samaritan at Sea Law," aims to implement the provisions concerning safety of life at sea and the duty to render assistance to persons in distress at sea in the said International Maritime instruments ratified by the Philippine Government.

Tolentino noted that although there are standing conventions to which, the Philippines is a state party and provide for obligations to render assistance to persons in distress at sea, these provisions are not self-executing.

The Philippines is a signatory in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and its Protocols of 1978 and 1988 and Agreement of 1996 (SOLAS); and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). These international conventions according to Tolentino provide that domestic laws must be enacted in order to implement its provisions.

Article 275 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes abandonment of person in danger and abandonment of one's own victim.

Under Section 5 of SB 1972, the ship captain/master of the vessel is mandated to render assistance to any person or persons found at sea in danger of being lost, as well as to proceed with the rescue of persons in distress, upon receiving a signal from any source.

Failure to comply with any of the obligations listed in SB 1972 shall be punishable by a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P1 million, depending on the size of the vessel or ship to be determined in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the measure.

If the violation--due to failure to render assistance--did happen within the country's internal waters, archipelagic waters or territorial sea, an additional penalty of imprisonment of not less than six months but not one year shall be imposed.

Meanwhile, an additional penalty of imprisonment of not less than one year and one day but not more than two years shall be imposed if the offender is the cause or part the ship that caused the distress at sea, collision or any other incident of navigation.

As an archipelago with around 330,000 Filipino seafarers and around 1.9 million registered small-scale fishermen, Tolentino said that it is more imperative for the government to be firm in protecting their lives by making it a legal obligation to render assistance to persons in distress at sea.

News Latest News Feed