Sponsorship speech on the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention)
By Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
(Delivered by Sen. Pia S. Cayetano)
19 May 2015
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues:
I have the honor to sponsor the concurrence by the Senate with the country’s accession to the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention). The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recommends concurrence within the year.
The Montreal Convention of 1999 is a treaty that enhances the entitlements of air passengers in case of death or injury and in the event of flight delays and loss or destruction of luggage. It seeks to harmonize a patchwork of international agreements formulated in 1929 and subsequent years that tend to confuse rather than clarify the abovementioned entitlements.
Under this treaty, when an air accident occurs and death or injury arise, air passengers are entitled to 113,100 Special Drawing Rights, which is roughly equivalent to US$176,000 or ₱7,300,000. There is no need for plaintiffs to prove negligence since the entitlement is predictable.
The Philippines acceded to the 1929 Warsaw Convention in 1950. Under that agreement, airlines’ liability limits for injury or death was set at roughly US$8,300 per passenger. This was raised to approximately US$16,600 under the 1955 Hague Protocol.
In 1966, faced with international dissatisfaction on these liability limits, the airline industry adopted the 1966 Montreal Inter-carrier Agreement providing for up to US$ US$75,000  in damages. At the time of the adoption of the 1971 Guatemala City Protocol, the liability limit was raised to US$ 100,000 but this set a maximum for what plaintiffs can claim. In the 1975 Montreal Protocols, the valuation of the liability limit was expressed using the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights in lieu of United States dollars.
The Montreal Convention also deals with the issue of air cargo handling. Like the airline liability issue, the Warsaw Convention provided rules for the same. From 1929 to 1975, when the Montreal Protocols were negotiated, the major development was the introduction of electronic documentation of air cargo. This was a vast improvement over the paper-based air cargo documentation provided for under the Warsaw Convention.
The hodge-podge of multilateral agreements and private international agreements addressing the issue of liability limits and the handling of air cargo made it imperative to negotiate an agreement that has coverage over these related issues. A comprehensive agreement is deemed as providing clarity in the rules developed since 1929 and promoting predictability in terms of passenger entitlements and the insurance requirements of airlines. For this purpose, the Montreal Convention was adopted on 28 May 1999 and entered into force on 04 November 2003.
Colleagues, let me enumerate the salient features of the treaty.
- The first feature is that damages with respect to death or bodily injury is raised to 113,100 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) (approximately EUR 120,000; US$176,000) . This is not a cap or a liability limit. Litigants may file suit for damages and could secure a higher amount unless the airline proves no negligence or that another party is responsible for the death or injury ;
- When a passenger’s luggage is delayed, destroyed or lost, the aggrieved party can claim up to 1,131 SDR (approximately EUR 1,200; US $1,760) ;
- Up to 4,694 SDR (approximately EUR 5,000; US $7,500) can be claimed when a flight is delayed;
- Should passengers decide to file suits in their place of permanent residence, they can do so under the treaty ;
- With national law providing a basis, the treaty calls for advance payments by airlines for death or injury ;
- Finally, the treaty improves on the paper-based transactions for air cargo by calling for the use of electronic airway bills.
Reasons for concurrence
International scheduled passenger traffic statistics from our Civil Aeronautics Board show that in 2005, we had 9.7 million passengers arriving and departing the Philippines. Of this number, 3.4 million passengers were handled by domestic carriers. In 2013, we had 17.3 million passengers and the share of domestic carriers has grown to 8.1 million passengers.
Colleagues, our regulatory regime must catch up with this sharp increase in international passenger traffic by providing better air passenger rights and promoting paperless technologies for air cargo.
Advantages of Ratification
Many of our air-going public are overseas Filipino workers whose protection the State ensures and whose benefits we in government make every effort to maximize. Better compensation for them in case of injury or death while en route to their worksites or when returning for vacation is clearly beneficial and a major reason for concurrence. The treaty advances their air passenger rights.
I humbly recommend that this Senate concur with the accession to the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention).
 See “The Montreal Inter-carrier Agreement (1966).”
 Article 21, paragraph 1 and
 Article 21, paragraphs 2 (a) and 2 (b)
 Article 22, paragraphs 2, 3 and
 Article 33, paragraph 2
 Article 28
 See http://www.cab.gov.ph/statistics/item/scheduled-international-passenger-traffic-2005-1st-sem-2014?category_id=78