Maritime Zones Bill passed on 3rd reading

Maritime Zones Bill passed on 3rd reading
File photo

THE Philippine Senate passed on third reading the Maritime Zones Bill, which, when signed into law, establishes with clarity and certainty the exact meters and bounds of Philippine maritime entitlements under Unclos and other relevant international laws.

With the passage of the Maritime Zones Act on third reading, the Philippines is a step closer to passing a foundational legislation that will clarify the country’s geographical jurisdiction. Its enactment will also enable the Philippines’ ability to fully enforce applicable maritime laws and enjoy its rights over its territory and exclusive economic zone and pave the way for clarifying and updating relevant maritime laws and policies that have been enacted prior to Unclos.

In his speech, Senator Francis Tolentino, chairperson of the Special Committee on Maritime and Admiralty Zones, and one of the primary authors of the bill, showed his appreciation and gratitude to all of the members and stakeholders who took part in the passage of the bill, giving special mention to Filipino fishermen for entrusting the responsibility of safeguarding the maritime domain to the Senate.

He also underscored how the Maritime Zones Act will serve as a cornerstone of the Philippines’ maritime policies, protecting the country’s sovereignty, promoting sustainable development, and securing future prosperity.

“Nakatatak na po sa kasaysayan ang Philippine Maritime Zones Law na magiging bantayog ng ating kalayaan. Let us celebrate this momentous occasion with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to continue working for the betterment of our beloved country,” Tolentino added.

(The Philippine Maritime Zones Law has made its mark in history and will stand as a monument of our independence. Let us celebrate this momentous occasion with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to continue working for the betterment of our beloved country.)

Senator Joel Villanueva and Senator Ramon Bong Revilla echoed Tolentino’s sentiments.

Villanueva said: “Binibigyang diin po at ngipin ng panukalang batas na ito ang intergridad ng ating territoryo na kinikilala ng United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea o Unclos, at ang makasaysayang tagumpay natin sa Permanent Court of Arbitration sa Hague noong 2016.”

(This bill strengthens and emphasizes our territory’s integrity as recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and our historic triumph at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.)

Revilla further emphasized the role of the Maritime Zones Act for the Philippines. “Sa pamamagitan ng panukalang ito na pasado na rin sa House of Representatives, hindi lamang iwinawagayway ang ating watawat, ipinagdidiinan din natin ang ating mga prinsipyo at paninindigan.”

(Through this proposed measure, which has already been passed in the House of Representatives, we are not only waving our flag but we are also highlighting our principles and resolve.)

Waypoints Senior Adviser Prof. Jay Batongbacal also underscored how the bill can help secure our maritime space and further enhance international cooperation.

“The enactment of the Maritime Zone law marks a significant milestone in the country’s long and difficult quest toward effectively managing our seas. Foreign States will be obliged to ensure that their flag vessels comply with the laws and regulations of the country enacted in accordance with international law. This enables us to secure international cooperation in the conservation and management of our inter-island and offshore waters,” he said.

Waypoints Senior Adviser Julio Amador also highlighted that “the passage of the Maritime Zones Act is national policy 40 years in the making; since Unclos was adopted, the Philippines needed to align its national laws with international norms and laws. This historic act underscores the Philippines’ commitment to defend its rights in its waters. This is an act of sovereignty by Congress. The House of Representatives have been steadfast in passing the bill and should be commended; the Senate’s efforts are equally worthy of commendation. I hope President Marcos can sign the bill into law the soonest.”

It is also fervently hoped that the bicameral session of the Senate and the House of Representatives will progress smoothly considering the necessity and importance of the Maritime Zones Act in securing the Philippines’ maritime domain. (PR)


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