SEN. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1098, which seeks to regulate the ownership and operation of drones by private persons.
Pimentel said over the last two decades, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones” had proliferated in various sectors of society.
According to the lawmaker, drones are used for amateur photography, to increase crop production and to conduct surveillance for military and law enforcement agencies.
With this ubiquity comes the need for regulation, he said.
The same drones that are used for recreational and commercial purposes might be exploited by terrorists, used to violate rights, or could pose a hazard to aircraft, he added.
Recently, drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies, Pimentel said.
SB 1098 regulates only drones purchased, owned and operated by private persons, whether used for hobby or commercial purposes, and does not cover use of drones by the government.
Under the bill, a udrone refers to an unmanned aerial vehicle or any component of an unmanned aerial system that has no pilot and is controlled by an operator on the ground. The Civil Aviation
Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is authorized to classify drones into types for the purpose of regulation.
All drone owners, whether the drones are for hobbyist or commercial use, are required to periodically register themselves and their drones with the CAAP’s Public Safety and Security Command Center.
Only a registered commercial drone owner may apply for a permit to operate, which shall be issued periodically only upon proof that the owner qualifies for a radio operator’s certificate of proficiency; has been awarded a passing rating in an aviation license theory examination; has completed a training course in the operation of the type of drone that will be operated; has at least five hours of experience operating drones outside of controlled airspace; has valid insurance over the drone; and has not incurred any violations for drone ownership or use in the five years immediately preceding an application for permit.
The operator’s permit to operate shall cover all registered drones of the same type.
The measure authorizes CAAP to collect reasonable fees for the registration of drones and processing of permits to operate the drones.
The CAAP is also authorized to prohibit the use of drones, whether hobbyist or commercial or both, in any part of the Philippines, whether permanently or for a designated period of time, subject to notice that must be published in at least two newspapers of national circulation.
The notice must clearly delineate the no-drone zone and must be published at least three weeks prior to the effectivity of the prohibition. Notice can only be foregone in emergency situations, as determined by the CAAP.
Failure to register a drone and its owner shall result in the confiscation of the drone by the CAAP. Operating a drone for commercial purposes without a permit shall result in the confiscation of the drone and a fine between P50,000 and P100,000.
Any violation of the general safety regulations and restrictions on drone usage shall result in a fine between P100,000 and P500,000, without prejudice to any separate civil or criminal charges that may be brought against the drone owner and/or operator for any injury or damage resulting from the violation.