Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (2nd from left) during the deliberation of House Bill No. 69 in the House Committee on Economic Affairs.*
Rep. Jose Francisco “Kiko” Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) called on the Marcos administration to prioritize programs that promote the blue economy in the interest of national economic security.
“Our maritime domains compose 88 percent of our territory. Sixty percent of Filipinos live in coastal communities. So it is crucial to maximize the economic and social benefits of our maritime industries, which include fisheries, shipping and tourism – and this requires strong commitment and action from concerned government agencies,” Benitez said during the initial deliberation of the House Bill No. 69, which he authored, in the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
“The Philippines is already a powerhouse maritime economy, given our geography, history and culture, but who benefits from the blessings of the seas?” Benitez added.
Blue economy is a framework for sustainable development of marine and coastal resources, based on principles of stewardship and social responsibility, he explained.
“We need to regulate maritime activities to mitigate impact to the environment,” Benitez emphasized in his sponsorship of House Bill No. 69.
According to the National State of Ocean and Coasts, maritime industries in the country were worth $11.9 billion in 2016, he said.
“Our maritime economy has great potential to accelerate our full economic recovery from the pandemic and support sustained economic growth. But we need a whole-of-society, whole-of-government approach to ensure that development does not destroy our marine and coastal ecosystems,” Benitez said.
“House Bill No. 69, if passed into law, will strengthen inter-agency coordination and planning to identify best use of our maritime zones, including our EEZ, promote blue finance or funding for special economic zones concentrating on sustainable and strategic maritime industries, and enhance maritime domain awareness to flag threats to our marine environments, including unauthorized access, overexploitation and pollution,” he added.*