Senate Bill No. 656: Maritime Passenger Safety Act

A large part of Philippine trade, commerce, and travel is reliant on sea travel as we are a nation composed of islands. Many workers around the country commute to and from their jobs by Ro-Ro ships that unfortunately are often overloaded and are lacking in safety equipment and protocols. Despite numerous tragic incidents at sea involving commercial vessels, the problems still persist: many poorly maintained sea vessels are plying heavy traffic routes with inadequate safety measures on board.

This bill seeks to assign the Maritime Industry Authority, aided by the Philippine Coast Guard, to be the implementing body that shall monitor all commercial vessels that engage in the carriage of goods or passengers. Such vessels covered under this act shall be required to provide standard safety features to passengers such as an on-board informational video about the safety and emergency protocols. In addition, vessels will be required to have functional and quality safety equipment and adequate emergency features such as emergency lights and exits. This bill shall also outlaw passenger overloading and bar any vessel from departing without a prepared passenger list.

To encourage compliance with minimum safety standards, this bill seeks to penalize companies for non-compliance with a fine of PHP 50,000 – PHP 200,000 depending on the offense and how many times it has been committed. This bill also seeks to discourage repeat offenders by making the third offense punishable by imprisonment.

In a country where hundreds of thousands must travel by sea on a daily basis, we must hold companies to high standards in providing affordable and safe transport for Filipinos. Improving the safety of sea transport will further boost national business development by strengthening the transport infrastructure needed to move people and goods around. Doing so will surely help our national sail toward the path of inclusive growth.

In view of the foregoing, the passing of this bill is earnestly sought.

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