Monday, October 20, 2014

Senate passes bill prohibiting development of chemical weapons

MANILA-The Senate today passed on third and final reading a bill which seeks to prohibit the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and at the same time establish a Philippine National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC).

“In our modern society, the use of chemical weapons, especially by non-state actors such as terrorists, poses a grave threat to international security,” said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2042, otherwise known as the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act.

The Philippines became a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, the first disarmament agreement that provides for the elimination and prohibition of the development of chemical weapons. As of October 2013, 190 nations have already signed to be part of the endeavor.

Trillanes, chair of the Committee on National Defense and Security, said the measure aimed to provide a legislative framework for the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the country.

Furthermore, he said, SBN 2042 aimed to establish a separate and permanent bureau that “will serve as the national coordinating body for effective liaison with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body of the Convention. The PNA-CWC will be the lead agency in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.”

 “Despite our efforts, we cannot fully implement its provisions in the country due to lack of a legislative framework that will give teeth to its implementation,” Trillanes said.

Under the proposed legislation, PNA-CWC will be comprised of the executive secretary as the chairperson and the secretary of national defense as the vice chairperson. Members will be the National Security Advisor and the secretaries of foreign affairs, justice, interior and local government, finance, health, environment and natural resources, agriculture, transportation and communications, trade and industry, science and technology and energy.

Once passed into law, violators face penalties of imprisonment of 12 years and one day to life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million for any person charged with any of the prohibited acts, according to Trillanes.

        “As a signatory to the Convention, the immediate passage of this bill is necessary to maintain our country’s commitment to international peace and security. It would be a vital step towards maintaining the peaceful and meaningful utilization of chemicals and the creation of a treaty regime which will ensure that governments from different states will fulfill their national obligation of implementing chemical disarmament and non-proliferation,” Trillanes said. (Apple Buenaventura)

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