MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved a measure that seeks to define the maritime zones of the Philippines.
On Monday, December 6, 189 lawmakers voted to pass the bill on third and final reading, bringing the country one step closer to harmonizing its laws with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Under House Bill No. 9981, the maritime zones of the Philippines include internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf.
The measure also underlines that the rights of the Philippines “relative to its maritime zone and entitlements shall be exercised in accordance with UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” the 2016 arbitral awards, as well as well as other laws on the country’s maritime zones and entitlements and international law.
Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District Representative Ann Hofer, who chairs the House committee on foreign affairs, said the bill’s approval “marks an important step towards consolidating our maritime jurisdiction as declared in the historic Arbitral Award.”
While the House has passed its version of the measure, similar bills are still pending at the committee level in the Senate.
On Monday, Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Fernandez told lawmakers at the Senate that the agency was supportive of measures that defined the maritime zones of the Philippines.
“Int terms of its (bills) standing on various international issues, including issues vital to its national interests, harmonizing its domestic laws with the 1982 UNCLOS will send a strong signal that the Philippines ‘practices what it preaches’ by adhering to the rule of law,” Fernandez said. – Rappler.com