A special Senate committee on Tuesday endorsed a measure to declare the country’s maritime zones and to set penalties for violators.
Senate Bill 2492 or the Philippine Maritime Zones Act, imposes a fine of US$600 up to US$1,000 on foreigners who illegally enter the country’s maritime zone or seas under its jurisdiction or territory.
The bill clarifies the country’s maritime zones to include baselines, internal waters, and the number of nautical miles or the extent of the territorial sea, contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones, and the continental shelf within the Philippines’ jurisdiction.
The bill also provides that the laws of the Philippines will prevail in these areas.
It also declares the country’s sovereign right to explore, exploit, conserve, and manage natural resources and conduct any activities, such as exploration for gas and research for energy production.
It also states that the Philippines has the jurisdiction and privilege to make and use artificial islands, installations, and structures for marine scientific research and other activities to protect the marine environment.
Senator Francis Tolentino, who chairs the special Senate committee on Philippine maritime and admiralty zones and one of the authors of the bill, said it was based on the Constitution, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 decision of the PermanentCourt of Arbitration that rejected China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
In other developments:* Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Southeast Asian nations should be wary of relying on “bigger and mightier countries of brute power” to advance their issues of national territory and sovereignty.
Teodoro made the remarks before delegates of the Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries who gathered at a Pasay City hotel.
*The “Christmas Convoy” organized by a civilian organization would proceed but its leaders agreed with the government’s stance not to go to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) due to security reasons, a security official said on Tuesday. NSC spokesperson and Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said both parties agreed that a civilian convoy to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal would not be advisable at this time. “Nonetheless, the planned Christmas Convoy will pass through the general vicinity of Ayungin Shoal as far as practicable, on its way to other selected Philippine-occupied features to bring Christmas cheer directly to our troops assigned to those areas as well as to our fisherfolk,” Malaya said. He said the convoy will visit and bring goods to Filipino troops in Pagasa Island.
* Three Chinese navy ships arrived in Myanmar for joint drills with its navy, the country’s junta said, as a border conflict strains ties between the Southeast Asian nation and its most important ally. A destroyer, frigate, and a supply vessel carrying hundreds of sailors arrived at Thilawa port on Monday ahead of “naval security exercises between Myanmar and China”, the junta’s information team said. It did not give details about the drills or when they would begin but state media reported the Chinese “naval task force” was 700 sailors strong. Beijing is a major ally and arms supplier of Myanmar’s junta and has refused to label its 2021 power grab a coup. With AFP