July 15th, 2019

Senator files bill making it mandatory to help Filipinos in distress at sea

Manila, Philippines – Senator Francis Tolentino files a bill that will penalize the failure to help Filipinos who find themselves distressed at sea. Senate Bill 209 or the ‘Good Samaritan at Sea Law’ seeks to implement international maritime laws to which the Philippines is a state party.

“I filed a bill because the UNCLOS and then the SOLAS convention of 1974 are not self-executory. That when there are distressed Filipinos at sea, they have the right to be given assistance. That’s not within our laws,” said Tolentino.

Tolentino adds such measure will “ensure that persons guilty of jeopardizing the lives of men at sea and those who unreasonably fail to render assistance to persons in distress at sea do not go unpunished.”

Under his proposed Good Samaritan at Sea law, the ship captain, its crew or passengers are mandated to render assistance to any person found at sea who are in danger of being lost; and after a collision, to the other ship’s crew and passengers and inform other ships and the nearest port. The ship captain shall also immediately respond to distress signals.

The bill proposes a fine of not less than P5 million but not more than P10 million for those who violate their duty to render assistance to distressed persons. If the violator was the cause of the distress at sea, the fine shall be P10 million to P20 million, with a jail term of at least one year to two years.