Seeking law experts’ help in resolving maritime disputes
Published on: Monday, November 29, 2021
By: GMA News
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Philippines Coast Guard steps up maritime exercises and sovereignty patrols in an undisclosed location.
MANILA: Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Sunday that Senate committee he leads will conduct an inquiry into a proposed law that seeks to declare the country’s maritime zones amid China’s West Philippine Sea (WPS) incursions.

Pimentel said that they will seek international law experts’ recommendations on Senate Bill 2289 or the Philippine Maritime Zones Act, which will determine if the said measure is necessary.

“There is a school of thought that we don’t need a law, we already have the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. If the principle is just duplicated, we will ask the experts if the law is needed,” said Pimentel, chairman of Senate committee on foreign relations, when asked about the Senate Bill 2289.

The bill, introduced by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, aims to identify maritime zones, archipelagic waters, and territorial zones of the country.

Pressed on the resolution condemning recent Chinese ships’ water cannon attack, Pimentel said he will seek to clarify the resolution’s aim to enter defense and security management.

Pimentel said that he does not want a militarised approach in resolving the disputes in the South China Sea.

He was referring to the Senate resolution filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

“There is a part there on entering defense and security arrangement with other nations. We need to talk about that and it’s meaning. Personally, I don’t want it to be militarized... if there is a disputed area let’s not have it militarized. Let’s make the international law as our rule.”

Lacson filed the Senate Resolution 954 to denounce China’s continued presence and “hostile acts” within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

Also, the resolution seeks to enhance the country’s positions in the West Philippine Sea through “defence and security agreements with other nations.” 

After China occupied Mischief Reef in the mid-1990s, the Philippines ran a derelict navy vessel aground on the nearby Second Thomas Shoal to assert Manila’s territorial claim. Members of the Philippine marines are based there. 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte condemned the latest flare-up in the sea during an Asian regional summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments,” Duterte told the meeting, using the Philippines’ name for the shoal.

“This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership.” 

Duterte’s remarks were unusually strong for a leader who has fostered warmer ties with Beijing since taking power in 2016 in the hope of extracting promised investment and trade.

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