Press Release
August 30, 2019

Tolentino wants stiff penalties for ship crew who fail to help persons in distress at sea

Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino is pushing for the passage of a bill seeking to impose stiff penalties on those who refuse or fail to give assistance to persons in distress at sea.

Tolentino said Senate Bill No. 209, otherwise known as the Good Samaritan At Sea Law, seeks to ensure that those guilty of jeopardizing the lives of men at sea and those who refuse to lend assistance during emergencies at sea would not go unpunished.

"As a key player in the global maritime industry, it is imperative for the Philippines 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 also to protect the lives of thousands of Filipinos at sea," Tolentino said.

Tolentino's call came amidst an apology issued by the Chinese Fishing Association that its trawler was responsible for sinking FB Gem-Ver 1 and abandoning its crew in the open water last June.

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Tolentino said the Philippines should pursue a civil claim for damages for the Filipino fishermen who lost their livelihood due to the loss of their boat.

Under the proposed bill, the vessel's captain, crew and passengers shall be held liable for refusing or failing to render assistance to persons in distress at sea.

In case of a collision, the ship's captain and crew should inform the other ship of the name of their vessel, the ship's port of registry and the nearest port at which it will call.

Upon receiving a distress call, the ship captain should inform the vessel in need that they are on their way to rescue them.

Vessels unable to respond to a distress alert for some special circumstances must enter in its log-book the reason for failing to proceed to the assistance of the persons in distress and inform the appropriate search and rescue service or the Philippine Coast Guard of the situation.

Tolentino said violators face a fine of not less than P5 million but not more than P10 million.

If the violator is the cause or part of the ship that caused the distress at sea, Tolentino said the fine shall be not less than P10 million but not more than P20 million.

He said in addition to the fines, an additional penalty of not less than six months but not more than one year shall be imposed on violators who fail to help persons in distress within the Philippine waters.

"If the violator is the cause or part of the ship that caused the distress at sea, an additional penalty of imprisonment of not less than one year and one day but not more than two years shall be imposed on them," according to Tolentino.

He said repeated offenders shall be dealt with the maximum penalties allowed. No foreign person shall be deported without the payment of the imposed judicial and/or administrative fines and service of sentence, if any.

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