(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to institutionalize the provision of incentives for sea wardens was once again filed in the Senate.
Bantay Dagat, otherwise known as sea wardens, are people who have undergone training programs on coastal fisheries and law enforcement and who voluntarily work as deputized fishery law enforcers.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, in his Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2464, said there is a need to recognize the rights of accredited sea wardens, adding that these individuals play an important role in the protection of the country’s marine and fisheries resources.
“By providing them with benefits and incentives, we are recognizing the commitment and dedication of the Bantay Dagat and their crucial role in safeguarding our waters against illegal fishing and ecological degradation,” said Estrada who chairs the chamber’s committee on national defense and security.
Under SBN 2464, the senator proposes the provision of the following incentives for sea wardens:
- Insurance and PhilHealth coverage
- Hazard allowance
- Subsistence allowance
- Night shift allowance
- Training, education, and career enrichment programs
- Civil Service Eligibility
- Free legal services
- Preferential access to loans
“While performing their duties and responsibilities, they shall be considered as agents of authority. As such, Bantay Dagat volunteers will be authorized to apprehend and arrest individuals engaged in illegal fishing, those committing violations under fishery and environmental laws, and to confiscate illegal paraphernalia. They will also receive the same protection and support as other law enforcement officers,” said Estrada.
According to the senator, Bantay Dagat volunteers enhance the capacities of civilian law enforcement agencies in safeguarding the country’s waters against unlawful and criminal activities.
But it wasn’t the first time that a bill such as this was filed in the upper chamber. In 2022, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed SBN 142, urging the provision of much-needed incentives for sea wardens.