MANILA, Philippines — A bill that aims to institutionalize the provision of incentives for sea guards has been refiled in the Senate.
Bantay Dagat, also known as sea rangers, are people who have completed training programs in coastal fishing and law enforcement and volunteer to work as deputy law enforcement officers in the field of fisheries.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, in his Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2464, said there is a need to recognize the rights of licensed marine watchers, adding that these individuals play an important role in protecting the country’s marine and fisheries resources.
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“By providing them with benefits and incentives, we recognize the commitment and dedication of the Bantay Dagat and their critical role in protecting our waters from illegal fishing and ecological degradation,” said Estrada, chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security.
Pursuant to SBN 2464, the senator proposes the following incentives for sea watchers:
- Insurance and PhilHealth coverage
- Hazard allowance
- Subsistence allowance
- Surcharge for night shifts
- Training, education and career enrichment programs
- Eligibility for civil servants
- Free legal services
- Preferential access to loans
“In discharging their duties and responsibilities, they will be regarded as agents of authority. As such, Bantay Dagat volunteers will have the authority to apprehend and arrest persons engaged in illegal fishing, those committing violations of fishing and environmental laws, and to confiscate illegal paraphernalia. They will also receive the same protection and support as other law enforcement officers,” Estrada said.
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According to the senator, Bantay Dagat volunteers strengthen the capabilities of civilian law enforcement agencies in protecting the country’s waters from unlawful and criminal activities.
But it was not the first time that a bill like this was submitted to the Senate. In 2022, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed SBN 142, urging the provision of much-needed incentives for seafarers.