Cebu City councilor wants to regulate use of drones

A CEBU city councilor wants to regulate the use of drones in the city due to the possibility that it could pose a threat to the security and privacy of some individuals.

In his proposed ordinance, Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr. said the measure aims to mitigate the potential safety risk posed by drones to people and properties.

Gabuya’s proposed ordinance entitled “An Ordinance Regulating the Use or Operation of Drones whether for Recreational or Business in Cebu City” was referred by the City Council to the committee on laws for further study.

A drone refers to an unmanned aerial vehicle being operated by a person on the ground.

The draft ordinance prohibits the following: The use of drones which are not registered with Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; drones that are not marked with the name, contact number and address of the owner; using it as a means to cause harm of the person including violating one’s right to privacy; and operating more than one drone at a time.

Other prohibitions in the draft ordinance include operating drones regardless of weight above four feet and at a lateral distance of less than 100 feet from vehicles, public or any person not associated with the operation; using it to carry or transport a living creature or other object; operating drones under the influence of liquor or illegal drugs; using it without the permission of the owner of the property where the drone intends to launch; operating it for advertising, research, filming, among others, without special permit issued by the mayor and the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO); and using it within the vicinity or over national government offices.

It also covers drones which are purchased, owned and operated by private persons, whether used for recreational or personal and business purposes.

The draft ordinance states that anyone caught violating the measure will be required to pay a fine of P2,000 for the first offense; P4,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 and confiscation of the drone and restriction to apply for special permit for the third offense.

The implementing office of the proposed ordinance are the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) of the CTO.

The two offices are also tasked to form the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the draft ordinance.

The IRR should be formed 30 days after the council approves the draft ordinance.

Some drone users reacted negatively on the proposed ordinance, stating that the air space is controlled by CAAP, not the City.

Sandie Salimbangon, a drone hobbyist, said there is no need for them to get a permit from the Cebu City Government as long as they already have the certificate from CAAP.

“It’s like having your vehicle registered at LTO (Land Transportation Office). If you have registered your vehicle in Manila and you will use it in other areas, it does need a permit from the LGU (local government unit),” said Salimbangon.

In 2018, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filed Senate Bill 1098, which seeks to regulate the use of drones to “safeguard” public safety.

If this will be passed into law, unregistered drones will be confiscated, whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes, and the owner will be required to pay a P50,000-P100,000 fine.

If CAAP’s general safety rules are violated, the owner will also be fined with P100,000-P500,000 on top of the possible civil and criminal charges to be filed against him or her. (JJL)