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Press Release - Tolentino: PH Maritime Zones Act to clarify accountability of foreign...

MANILA — Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino underscored on Monday that the Maritime Zones Act will clarify the metes and bounds of the Philippine maritime, contiguous, and exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the international community to establish jurisdiction that the country can enforce in addressing foreign transgressors.

During the interpellation of the Senate Bill no. 249, Tolentino remarked: "Lahat po ng mga zones na ito ay may kanya-kanyang kaakibat na rights, privileges, responsibilities ng ating bansa. At accountability naman po sa mga bansang nais mag-transgress."

He further clarified: "Kung sino po iyong papasok sa territorial sea, even though exercising the right of innocent passage, dapat ay kontrolado natin— kontrolado ng [Philippine] Coast Guard, kontrolado ng PNP Maritime Command, at Philippine Navy."

Amid the ongoing swarming of 135 Chinese boats at the Julian Felipe Reef, which is part of the Philippine EEZ, Tolentino said that while the bill will not immediately address such acts, "it will clarify to the entire international community that it is part of our EEZ because the metes and bounds will be clarified."

"Hindi po sa pagpapasa ng batas na ito, maitataboy natin agad ang 135 boats na nagkumpol-kumpol ngayon, na nagsa-swarming doon sa Julian Felipe Reef. Hindi po ito overnight na kapag naipasa natin," the Senate Committee on Maritime and Admiralty Zones Chairman remarked.

Further, according to Sen.Tol, the passage of the Maritime Zones Act will improve the country's maritime governance.

"The Maritime Zone law is not aimed at settling territorial issues. It will merely clarify the geographical extent of our country's maritime zones and the applicable legal regimes in these zones as stated in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and under the 2016 arbitral ruling," Tolentino concluded.