Senator Miriam alarmed on status of light stations: Wants senate inquiry

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is set to file a bill urging his colleagues to investigate the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) alleged failure to repair 226 defective light stations in the country. Santiago said she would file the bill on Monday based on the recently released Commission on Audit (COA) report that of the 563 light stations in the country, only 337 were operational as of the end of 2014.

She claimed that because of the defective light stations, there are only 2.9 light stations per 100 nautical miles of Philippine coastline, lower than the standard of four light stations per 100 nautical miles set by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities’ (IALA).

Santiago agreed with the COA that the dismal state of government aid to navigation in the country is alarming, noting that regardless of advancement in technology, mariners still rely on these light stations as visual confirmations of their electronic readings.

“Lighthouses are useful particularly to fishermen whose boats are not equipped with modern technology for navigation. Lack of operational light stations can jeopardize their safety,” the senator said. She noted that under R.A. No. 9993, or the Coast Guard Law of 2009, the PCG is mandated to coordinate, establish, maintain, and operate aids to navigation within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines.

“The PCG management should prioritize the immediate repair of defective light stations and regularly monitor the condition of these facilities. Likewise, the PCG should increase the number light stations to ensure the safety of all vessels navigating in Philippine waters,” Santiago said.

The senator also urged Congress, in consultation with the Department of Transportation and Communications and other concerned agencies, to determine the need to pass laws or amend existing laws to boost maritime safety.