Senator seeks to regulate operation, ownership of private drones
Robie de Guzman • October 11, 2019 • 328
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has filed a bill seeking to regulate the ownership and operation of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles by private individuals.
Under Senate Bill No. 1098, Pimentel wants to penalize private persons who are not authorized to own and operate drones either for recreational or commercial use.
Pimentel noted that over the last two decades, drones have been used for photography, to increase crop production, in commercial use and to conduct surveillance and law enforcement operations.
Just recently, United Parcel Service (UPS), an American multinational package delivery and supply chain management, was granted approval by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a “drone airline.”
“With this ubiquity, comes the need for regulation,” Pimentel said.
“The same drones that are used for recreational and commercial purposes might be exploited by terrorists, used to violate rights, or could pose a hazard to aircraft,” he added.
The lawmaker cited the drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies.
He said he first filed the measure during the previous Congress.
The bill seeks to regulate only drones purchased, owned and operated by private persons, whether used for hobby or commercial purposes, and does not cover use of drones by the government.
The proposal states that only a registered commercial drone owner may apply for a permit to operate.
The permit shall be issued periodically only upon proof that the owner qualifies for a radio operator’s certificate of proficiency; has been awarded a passing rating in an aviation license theory examination; has completed a training course in the operation of the type of drone that will be operated; has at least five hours of experience operating drones outside of controlled airspace; has valid insurance over the drone; and has not incurred any violations for drone ownership or use in the five years immediately preceding an application for permit.
The bill authorizes the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to regulate and classify drones into types.
CAAP will also be authorized to prohibit the use of drones, whether for hobbyist or commercial use or both, in any part of the Philippines, whether permanently or for a designated period of time, subject to notice that must be published in at least two newspapers of national circulation.
The bill states that the notice must clearly delineate the no-drone zone and must be published at least three weeks prior to the effectivity of the prohibition. Notice can only be foregone in emergency situations, as determined by the CAAP.
The bill also requires all drone owners, whether for hobby or commercial use, are required to periodically register themselves and their drones with the CAAP’s Public Safety and Security Command Center.
The measure also states that an unregistered drone may be confiscated by the CAAP. Operating a drone for commercial purposes without a permit shall result in the confiscation of the drone and a fine between P50,000 and P100,000.
Any violation of the general safety regulations and restrictions on drone usage stated in the proposal shall result in a fine between P100,000 and P500,000, without prejudice to any separate civil or criminal charges that may be brought against the drone owner and/or operator for any injury or damage resulting from the violation.
MANILA, Philippines – Several senators on Monday slammed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua over his remark that Filipino workers in China might be suspected of being spies.
At a Committee on Foreign Relations Organizational meeting, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel assured the Chinese envoy that Filipinos in China are not spies but are there to earn a living.
“Let me assure China, there are no Filipino spies in China. Kaya wag silang mag-alala. Ang mga Pilipino po na nasa China ay para po sa pagta-trabaho,” he said when asked for his comment on the issue.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier expressed concern over the location of the Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGO) hubs near military camps, saying these Chinese-dominated casinos could be used for espionage purposes.
In response to Lorenzana’s remark, Zhao reportedly told Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that they may also be inclined to look at Filipino workers in China as spies.
For Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Chinese Ambassador’s statement could be considered a threat.
“Ito ay maituturing na banta sa buhay at kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayang OFW sa Tsina. It is a veiled threat in response to our simple and reasonable desire to strictly regulate Chinese POGO operations in the country and ensure the country’s national security,” Hontiveros said.
“Our OFWs are not spies. They have no history of espionage. Filipinos abroad are valued both for their skill and unique blend of hard work and care. They pose no threat. In fact, in China, our workers are employed in areas that are nowhere near military and security facilities. To insinuate that they could be committing espionage is not only insulting but plainly false,” she added.
He added that Lorenzana is a competent official and his job is to advise authorities on a matter of security.
“He has nothing but good intentions. We should defer to him,” he said.
Drilon further stated the possibility that POGO workers could be used for information gathering is not a remote possibility.
“It’s convenient when there is a need for it. Why should we leave that chance unchecked?” he said, adding that he supports Lorenzana’s proposal to move POGO hubs farther away from military camps.
Hontiveros also said the Lorenzana did not accuse Chinese workers employed in POGO hubs as spies, but merely pointed out the proximity of the firms to military camps which can be exploited by unscrupulous people to undermine the country’s security.
The senator also recalled Lorenzana’s point that Chinese firms are mandated by the Chinese government to assist in intelligence collection for their government.
“Foreign workers, including Chinese workers, who fully comply with our laws and respect the rights of Filipino workers are welcome in our country. We demand the same from our OFWs working in and hosted by foreign countries. However, our country also reserves the right to ensure the safety of its citizens and protection of its state secrets,” Hontiveros said.
To address this issue, Hontiveros said there should be a thorough review of all Chinese POGOs near military installations and camps, adding that the defense department “must make a comprehensive appraisal and provide necessary proposals.”
She also suggested for stricter regulation of the POGO industry to ensure that revenues are monitored, taxes are paid and domestic facilities are not used to commit crimes.
Hontiveros added that there should be pressure on the Chinese government to commit more to work closely with the Philippine authorities in regulating the entry of illegal and undocumented Chinese workers into the country.
MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, some senators have already picked out certain topics that they want the Chief Executive to discuss in his speech.
According to Senator Sonny Angara, he expects the president to outline his plans not only for his remaining three years in office but for the next decade.
In particular, Angara said the 2020 national budget should lay down the framework for the 10-year development plan for the country.
“This should result in the next administration building on what the President has achieved and what he started during his term and not the perennial focus on going after its predecessors,” he said in a statement.
The lawmaker added he would also like to hear the president fulfilling his promise of raising the teachers’ salaries, as well as his plan on creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities for Filipino workers.
“We want to see the creation of more jobs and opportunities for the Filipino people so that they are able to improve their lives and no longer see the need to go abroad in order to make ends meet,” Angara said.
Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he wants to hear during the president’s SONA the administration’s commitment to further protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers.
Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.
“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” he said.
“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.
For Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, he wants to hear about the president’s priority bills, as well as his view on the surge of illegal foreign workers in the country.
“His priorities for one year usually, and then priorities for the last second half of his term,” he said.
Aside from labor issues, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expects the president to tackle in his speech the issue on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the disputed waters.
“Wish ko lang na sasabihin ni Presidente na sa wakas after 3 years ay i-champion na niya, itataguyod yung tagumpay natin vis a vis China sa West Philippine Sea,” she said.
Duterte has been facing criticisms over his stance on China’s continued trawling in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
He earlier stressed that his position on allowing Chinese fishermen access to Philippine waters was not a violation of the Philippine constitution. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel on Thursday said Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano still needs to work on getting the House speakership post despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of a term-sharing deal between Congressmen Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco.
“Advantage siya ngayon with the statement of the President. Swerte nga niya eh. He has the advantage but not an assurance — he still has to work for it,” Pimentel told reporters in a Senate press briefing.
He said Cayetano still needs to convince House members to vote for him on July 22 when the regular session of the 18th Congress opens.
“Sa July 22, para hindi siya magulat, he has to make sure kumbinsido na ang lahat. Majority or plurality to vote for him as House speaker,” he said.
Pimentel added that among the lawmakers that Cayetano needs to convince are the 85 members of the ruling party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Pimentel is the current president of the ruling party while President Duterte serves as its chairman.
The PDP-Laban earlier fielded Velasco as its bet for speakership.
According to Pimentel, PDP-Laban representatives are set to meet with Cayetano on Thursday night to discuss matters, including committee chairmanships.
Pimentel said the meeting is important for Cayetano to get the party’s support.
Cayetano is a member of the Nacionalista party.
“He cannot sit as House Speaker without the support of the PDP-Laban,” Pimentel said.
The lawmaker also reiterated they are abiding with the president’s decision to endorse a term-sharing set-up between Cayetano and Velasco, with the former serving first in 15 months to be succeeded by the latter in the remaining 21 months of the term.
They initially wanted Velasco to serve first before Cayetano.
Meanwhile, Pimentel said it was theoretically possible for members of the House of Representatives not to heed the president’s endorsement of Cayetano as speaker when they vote for their leader on July 22.
This was his comment on Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte’s hint that solons might launch a coup and vote for their personal choice.
“Basta theoretically, everything is possible kasi basta’t collegial body ganun naman talaga eh,” he said. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)
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