With the start of the hearings of the House Committees on Transportation and Oversight on the tragedy that befell the M/V Princess of the Stars, Muntinlupa City Congressman Ruffy Biazon urged the two committees to focus on legislation that will address any fault in the system in order to prevent lapses and plug loopholes in existing laws.
“While the two committees through the leadership of Speaker Nograles should be commended for their prompt action, they should be reminded that the duty of finding fault and liability with regard to the accident primarily rests on the Board of Marine Inquiry”, said Biazon. “The committees may make recommendations but our primary objective should be to come up with legislation that will provide the legal environment to adequately enforce safety and pursue those who are liable for accidents”, he added.
Biazon, vice-chair of the Committee on Defense and Appropriations, also urged Congress to act on pending legislation that pertain to the Transport and Maritime Industry, especially that the ongoing discussions on recent sea tragedy provides the momentum to tackle relevant pending legislation.
The congressman was referring to bills that he filed in the House of Representatives, namely, House Bill No. 76, which seeks to “Ordain and Institute the Maritime Code of the Philippines”, H.B. 77, proposing to create a National Transportation Safety Board, H.B. 78, which seeks to increase penalties for polluters of the marine environment, and H.B. 87, entitled “ An Act Consolidating Admiralty and Maritime Laws to Modernize the Maritime Industry, Promote and Regulate Merchant Marine Activities, Rationalize the Organization and Functions of Government Agencies Related to Admiralty and Maritime Matters and Insure the Protection of the Marine Wealth in the Philippine Territory”.
“Most of these bills have been pending since I filed them last year”, Congressman Biazon revealed.
“Even the passage of the Coast Guard bill now has an urgency due to this disaster”, he added.
The third term congressman hopes that the numerous lives lost in the sinking of the M/V Princess of the Stars will not be in vain. “Even before I became a member of the House of Representatives, I had participated in inquiries on sea tragedies as a member of the technical staff of a senator. It is sad that until this day, I am on my last term as congressman, these kinds of tragedies repeat themselves, obviously because we have not learned from previous lessons. I hope that with the inquiry of the committees of the 14th Congress, we will at lease diminish, if not totally eradicate, these mishaps”, Biazon concluded.