PCG gets more teeth with the approval of the IRR of new Coast Guard Law

April 13, 2011 12:35 am 

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, April 12 — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has acquired more power following the approval by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for a new law defining the PCG's functions.

DOTC Secretary Jose De Jesus approved the IRRs for Republic Act No. 9993 or the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Law of 2009 last April 8.

"R.A. 9993 virtually empowers the PCG and takes from the (Maritime Industry Authority) its maritime safety enforcement function as per R.A. 9295 or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004," the PCG stressed.

According to the PCG, the new law was passed by Congress after the country’s shipping safety record was beset with numerous maritime incidents.

Congress saw the need for the law to take a drastic turn to address problems caused by antiquated and inadequate maritime laws.

R.A. 9993 and its IRR institutionalize the transfer of the PCG from the Philippine Navy to the DOTC as an attached agency.

It establishes the PCG as a distinct, uniformed and armed service of the country provided that in times of war, the PCG shall be placed under the Department of National Defense (DND).

"The promulgation of the said IRR to put to effect R.A. 9993 is a result of a series of consultations with various government agencies and the maritime stakeholders around the country. This is a product of participatory exercise involving all parties who contribute in order to make sure that a responsive IRR that can address prevailing and emerging challenges in the maritime industry is promulgated," PCG commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.

Under the PCG Law of 2009 and its IRR, the PCG is vested with crucial functions that can be summed up as:

* Maritime Safety (MARSAF).

* Marine Environmental Protection (MAREP).

* Maritime Search and Rescue (MARSAR).

* Maritime Law Enforcement (MARLEN).

* Maritime Security (MARSEC).

Other salient features of the IRR include:

* A more defined authority for the PCG to conduct random inspection on all merchant ships and vessels to ensure and enforce compliance with safety standards;

* Power to detain, stop or prevent a ship or vessel which does not comply with safety standards;

* Power to conduct emergency readiness evaluation on merchant marine vessels;

* Protection of the marine environment from off-shore sources of pollution;

* Power to remove, destroy or tow to port, sunken or floating hazards to navigation, including illegal fish traps and vessels;

* Power or clear authority to board and inspect all types of vessels, watercraft and off-shore floating facilities to enforce all applicable laws, to include the Revised Penal Code, while within the country’s maritime jurisdiction.

Tamayo said the immense responsibilities on maritime governance and development with R.A. 9993 and its IRRs make the PCG's expansion and modernization inevitable.

He said the PCG will remain more resolute in its commitment to serve the nation by ensuring safe, clean and secure maritime environment. (PNA)

DCT/scs/PFN/mec

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