June 19, 2024

The Insider News

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House OKs bill prohibiting chemical weapons

THE House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on 3rd and final reading a bill adopting a policy of freedom from chemical weapons to protect the people and the global environment, and fulfill the Philippines’ international commitment under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

With an overwhelming 197 votes, the chamber approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 9571, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or retention of any chemical weapons, among others. 

“The bill designates the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as the Philippine National Authority on the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC), to be headed by the Executive Secretary,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said. “The bill also lists the responsibilities of the PNA-CWC including the development of policies concerning the production, processing, consumption, importation, exportation, use and proper disposition of scheduled chemicals and facilities, and production facilities of other chemicals not listed in Schedules 1 to 3 of the Annex on Chemicals to the Convention to which the Philippines is a signatory.” 

“This proposed bill essentially serves as the enabling law required to fulfill our obligations under the Convention,” the House leader added.

HB 9571 also prohibits the following: transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to persons; use of chemical weapons; any military preparations to use a chemical weapon; to assist, encourage or induce a person in any way to engage in any activity that is prohibited to a State Party under the Convention; to use a riot control agent as a method of warfare; to engage in any other activity prohibited to a State Party under the Convention; and to export and import Schedule 1 chemicals to or from a State not a Party to the Convention, including transit through such State.

The proposed law also seeks to impose penalties and sanctions for criminal and administrative violations committed by officers of partnerships, corporations, associations, and other juridical entities; government officials and employees; and foreign nationals.

Under the bill, any chemical weapon subject of the offense, the fruits and proceeds and such other instrument related thereto, shall be forfeited in favor of the government, and that the cost of destruction or disposal shall be borne by the erring individual or entity.

The Philippines signed the Convention in 1993 and subsequently ratified it in 1996. The Convention “aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction,” and requires States Parties to “take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction,” according to the website of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). OPCW, with 193 Member States, is the implementing body for the Convention, which entered into force on April 29, 1997. 

The authors of the bill are Reps. Jorge “PATROL” Bustos, Dan S. Fernandez, Romeo M. Acop, Reynante U. Arrogancia, Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, Bambi B. Emano, Keith Micah D.L. Tan, Edvic B. Yap, Emerson D. Pascual, Ferjenel G. Biron, Celso G. Regencia, Bonifacio L. Bosita, Joseph Stephen S. Paduano, Virgilio S. Lacson, Eddiebong G. Plaza, Brian Raymund S. Yamsuan, Loreto B. Acharon, Francisco Paolo P. Ortega V, Salvador A. Pleyto, and Ron P. Salo.