Senate approves stiffer penalties on theft, destruction of weather devices-A A +A
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
MANILA -- A bill seeking to penalize the unauthorized taking, stealing or tampering of government risk reduction and preparedness equipment was approved on third and final reading at the Senate.
House Bill 5932 was approved on Monday with 20 votes without abstention or opposition.
The bill harmonized the proposals of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (Senate Bill 2955 or the Anti-Pilferage Act of Risk Reduction and Preparedness Equipment of 2011), Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Flood Warning Equipment in the Agno and Tarlac Weather Stations) and former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri (Senate Bill 2638 or the Disaster Warning and Risk Reduction Devices Anti-Theft Act of 2011).
In pushing for the bill, Enrile noticed that theft, tampering or destruction of weather forecasting devices, flood monitoring instruments, seismographs, tsunami warning systems and automated weather systems has resulted in millions of lost lives during calamities.
Under the proposed measure, any person found guilty of stealing or unauthorized taking, possession, selling or buying of government risk reduction and preparedness equipment will be fined from P1 million to P3 million and/or imprisonment of 12 years to 15 years.
Also, any person found guilty of tampering, dismantling or disassembling of government risk reduction and preparedness equipment will be fined from P500,000 to P1 million and/or imprisonment ranging from six years to 10 years, the bill stated.
A fine of P500,000 to P1 million will be imposed on any person found guilty of attempting to commit any of the prohibited acts under HB 5932 and/or imprisonment from six years to eight years.
On the other hand, persons found guilty of unlawfully benefiting from the proceeds or fruits of any of the prohibited acts in the measure will be fined from P200,000 to P500,000 and/or imprisonment ranging from two years to seven years.
Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the committee on environment and natural resources, said any government officer or employee who is guilty of assisting in the commission of any of the prohibited acts under the bill will suffer the same penalty imposed on private individuals.
They will also be administratively dismissed from the service, disqualified from holding any public office, and all their benefits from the government shall be forfeited.
The bill also provides for an information drive so that the public can appreciate, respect, guard and protect the said equipment.
The Philippines has one of the highest exposures to climate change risks—including typhoons, floods, landslides, and droughts—and is ranked in the top 10 countries worldwide at risk for both climate change and disasters. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)