Philippines Asserts Rights Over Maritime Zones, Senator Says

Senator Francis Tolentino explains to media the new Maritime Zone Law during the weekly "Kapihan sa Manila Bay" on February 28, 2024. The new law, which establishes the Philippine Maritime Zones in compliance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, sets the archipelagic boundaries, the country's internal waters and exclusive economic zones over which the Philippine government exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction. PHOTOS BY MIKE ALQUINTO
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MANILA, Philippines: Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino emphasized on Wednesday that the Philippines has the inherent right to assert its rights and entitlements over its maritime zones, including the underwater features. This statement comes in response to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mao Ning’s remark that the proposed Philippine Maritime Zone Law is an attempt to enforce the illegal arbitral award on the South China Sea through domestic legislation.

During a press briefing, Senator Tolentino, the author and principal sponsor of the proposed Philippine Maritime Zone Law, highlighted that the Philippine Senate has the authority to pass legislation in accordance with international law and the arbitral award on the South China Sea. He further explained that the inclusion of the 2016 Arbitral Ruling in the proposed law is not only legitimate but also imperative, as it reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to upholding international law.

“We must respond to any objections from China with unwavering defense of our sovereign rights and adherence to lawful arbitration outcomes. China’s attempts to challenge this groundbreaking law are futile and will not deter us from vigorously upholding our rights under international law,” Senator Tolentino asserted.

In response to the proposed Philippine Maritime Zone Law, Mao Ning, speaking on a state-controlled CCTV, expressed China’s firm opposition and lodged solemn démarches to the Philippines.

The Philippines’ assertion of its rights over maritime zones is grounded in international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS provides a framework for the rights and responsibilities of states in the use and management of the world’s oceans and their resources. It establishes the legal basis for determining maritime boundaries and resolving disputes.

The inclusion of the 2016 Arbitral Ruling in the proposed Philippine Maritime Zone Law is significant. The ruling, issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, declared that China’s historical claims in the South China Sea have no legal basis. It also affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone and recognized its entitlement to certain maritime features.

China’s opposition to the proposed law reflects its ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The region is a critical maritime route and is believed to hold significant oil and gas reserves. Several countries, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, have overlapping territorial claims in the area.

The Philippines’ stance on asserting its rights under international law is not unique. Many countries around the world have faced similar challenges in protecting their maritime boundaries and resources. The issue of maritime disputes is a complex and sensitive one, often involving geopolitical considerations, economic interests, and historical claims.

In navigating this complex landscape, the Philippines must remain steadfast in upholding its rights under international law. It is crucial for the country to continue engaging in peaceful and diplomatic efforts to resolve disputes and promote stability in the region. The proposed Philippine Maritime Zone Law serves as a concrete step towards asserting the country’s rights and protecting its interests in the South China Sea.

As the Philippines moves forward with its legislative process, it is important for the international community to support and respect the country’s efforts. Upholding international law and resolving disputes through peaceful means is essential for maintaining regional stability and ensuring the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

In conclusion, the Philippines’ assertion of its rights over maritime zones, including the underwater features, is a legitimate and necessary step in upholding international law. The proposed Philippine Maritime Zone Law, with its inclusion of the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, reaffirms the country’s commitment to protecting its sovereign rights. Despite China’s opposition, the Philippines remains resolute in its pursuit of justice and adherence to international law.

Source: The Manila Times

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