House approves Philippine Maritime Zones Act

Maris Federez   •   December 6, 2021   •   241

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to proclaim maritime zones under the jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines.

With 189 affirmative votes, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 9981 or the Philippine Maritime Zones Act.

The law aims to define the maritime zones of the country which include internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf.

The law said declaring the country’s maritime zones will establish the legal bases by which social, economic, commercial, and other activities may be conducted.

The measure aims to provide flexibility in enacting laws pertinent to the rights and obligations that the Philippines can exercise over its maritime zones.

House Committee on Foreign Affairs chair and Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District Rep. Ann Hofer lauded the approval of the bill which she principally authored.

“The approval of HB 9981 marks an important step towards consolidating our maritime jurisdiction as declared in the historic Arbitral Award,” Hofer said.

The measure further provides for the sovereign rights over these maritime zones, thus establishing the country’s exclusive rights to explore and exploit living and nonliving resources found in these zones, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other existing laws and treaties. —/mbmf

Duterte calls for self-restraint amid issues in West Philippine Sea

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called on stakeholders in the West Philippine Sea “to exercise utmost self-restraint, avoid the escalation of tensions and work towards the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law,” referring to the issues on the disputed waters as  “a strategic challenge that cannot be solved by force.”

A statement released by Malacañang said the President joined the discussion at the ASEAN-China Special Summit with his counterparts in the region to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations via video conference on Monday, November 22.

“We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership,” Duterte said.

“UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award provide legal clarity …pointing us to a just and fair solution to our disputes. We must fully utilize these legal tools to ensure that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability, and prosperity,” he added.

The President also asked China to remain committed to the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

“There is simply no other way out of this colossal problem but the rule of law,” he said.

During the summit, Duterte underscored the depth and breadth of the 30-year partnership between ASEAN and China who, he stressed, deserves its status as the region’s “Comprehensive Strategic Partner”.

The president also pointed out China’s timely assistance to ASEAN’s COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, and the first country to provide life-saving vaccines and medical supplies to the ASEAN member nations.

Duterte also expressed his views on the region’s recovery efforts against the pandemic.

“Enhanced multilateralism and connectivity will be the drivers of inclusive and comprehensive recovery,” the President said as he welcomed China’s ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Malacañang said that the President also touched on the recently concluded 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, reiterating the Philippines’ call for urgent climate action anchored on the principles of justice and fairness.

He also pushed for the protection and preservation of biodiversity and the marine environment through sustained cooperation by supporting the work of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity hosted by the Philippines, among others.

Resolution ‘strongly condemning’ China’s illegal activities in West PH Sea filed in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Eleven senators on Monday lodged a resolution “strongly condemning” the illegal activities of China in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

In filing Senate Resolution 708, principally authored by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, the senators stressed that the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the country’s territories violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Drion said the “strongly-worded” bipartisan resolution supports the position of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“China should not be allowed to rewrite or nullify the UNCLOS, which was painstakingly negotiated and ratified by various States, as such blatant disregard of established international law not only has serious ramifications on a rules-based international order but likewise deprives Philippine fishermen of livelihood, prevents the Philippines from fully taking advantage of the resources within its exclusive economic zone, causes irreparable damage to the marine environment due to pollution and destruction of coral reefs, and serves to militarize the South China Sea,” the senators said.

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea earlier reported Chinese vessels lingering at Julian Felipe Reef and other parts of the West Philippine Sea under the Philippines’ EEZ.

Senators said China’s illegal activities in the contested waters threaten the peace and security in this region and the world.

China’s illegal activities in the area are also “in clear violation” of Article 60 of the UNCLOS which states that “in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have the exclusive right to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation, and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures,” the senators added.

Aside from Drilon, Senators Ralph Recto, Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Lito Lapid, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, and Bong Revilla co-authored the resolution.

The move came after the Department of Foreign Affairs lodged a series of diplomatic protests over the continued presence of the Chinese ships within the Philippine EEZ.

Pres. Duterte, not apologetic to Pres. Xi in raising arbitral ruling during his China visit

Maris Federez   •   September 4, 2019

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping

There is no truth to the reports that President Rodrigo Duterte had been apologetic to President Xi Jinping when the former raised the arbitral ruling in the South China Sea in his recent visit to China.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr said the reports were a total fabrication and a complete lie.

“The reports that the President was apologetic in raising the arbitral award is a total fabrication, and in every aspect a complete lie. On the contrary, the President has, in my experience in his visits to China, always raise the Arbitral Award,” Locsin stressed.

Locsin also maintained that the president had been firm in insisting that China has to seek permission from the Philippine government before any of its warships incurs in Philippine waters.

“By insisting on, the President I admire him for this, on permission. But by China saying, yes we will ask for permission, we are now on the side of China in the revision of UNCLOS which is now asking for permission,” the DFA head added.

The official added that the Philippine government had been filing diplomatic protests to insist on the country’s rights in the disputed territory.

“And we have not withdrawn from a single square inch of what we claim is ours,” Locsin underscored.

The Philippines has filed 60 diplomatic protests under the Duterte administration. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf


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