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After the oil catastrophe, stricter shipbuilding regulations are being sought.

Jose Francisco Benitez, a representative from Negros Occidental’s third congressional district, filed a bill on Wednesday that would give the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) more authority to strictly enforce shipbuilding standards and make sure that vessels are built and outfitted with equipment to prevent the discharge or emission of oil, sewage, garbage, and other harmful substances and pollutants into Philippine seas.

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Benitez stated that his proposed House Bill (HB) No. 7515 particularly calls for strict adherence to the rules established by the 2001-signed MARPOL 73/78 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.

After an oil spill from the MT Princess Empress reached several coastal communities in the Visayas region and the province of Palawan, he filed the bill.

On February 28, a tanker off the coast of Oriental Mindoro province capsized with 800,000 gallons of industrial oil on board.

The proposed legislation requires the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to stop and detain ships that are breaking the rules.

In order to enhance ship regulations and stop oil spills and the release of hazardous materials into the water, he claimed that Bill 7515 would be essential.

“In 2001, we ratified MARPOL 73/78 (MARPOL stands for marine pollution). Long overdue is enacting legislation. We must uphold our adherence to international law and fulfill our environmental protection obligations “said Benitez.

He claimed that his legislation is essential for safeguarding the nation’s maritime treasure, fostering the blue economy, and ensuring the sustainable development of the country’s marine resources for the good of both the present and the future.

“We can’t allow there to be another oil disaster. Its harm to the marine environment is simply excessive. The harm to livelihoods and marine ecosystems cannot be quantified in monetary terms, according to Benitez.

Also, the measure aims to impose fines of up to PHP10 million. The money collected from fines will be used to clean up spills and contain leaks.

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