Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco "Kiko" Benitez welcomed the approval of the third and final reading of the Blue Economy bill of the House of Representatives on December 12.
Benitez, who is the author of the bill, expressed gratitude to the House leadership and his colleagues for their support of House Bill No. 9662, which seeks to transform our maritime economy to a sustainable “blue economy.”
He described the bill as a landmark legislation that is “vital not only to sustaining economic growth but also to building our national identity.”
Voting 254-3, the House passed the blue economy bill, which is included in the Legislative Executive Development Council (LEDAC) Common Legislative Agenda. The bill promotes stewardship and sustainable development of our marine wealth within our maritime domains, including our Exclusive Economic Zone.
“The Philippines is an archipelagic and maritime nation. Maritime industries contributed 857 billion pesos to our economy or 3.9% of our GDP in 2022. But unsustainable economic development is threatening to destroy our marine and coastal ecosystems. The blue economy bill will strike a balance between our economic, social and ecological imperatives,” Benitez said.
“The concept of the blue economy also enriches our understanding of national security and highlights civilian objectives. After all, national security is not only about border control but also about pollution control; not only about territorial integrity but also environmental integrity, not only about military security but also food security,” he added.
The bill will ensure that ocean-based and ocean-related industries, from fisheries to shipping and tourism, will not cause damage to marine habitats. It also mandates marine spatial planning, a process to identify the best use of our maritime areas to prevent overlapping and conflicting uses and to mitigate environmental impacts.
“At the core of our blue economy are small fisherfolk. We guarantee that subsistence fisheries, or fishing mainly for household fishing consumption, will not be displaced as we delineate our maritime zones for different uses,” he added.
The bill also promotes cross-sector engagement, where local and indigenous knowledge systems of small fisherfolk will be valued.*