Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte has filed a bill directing the Department of Foreign Affairs to establish the archipelagic sea lanes of the Philippines as espoused in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS and other relevant international conventions.
He introduced House Bill 8018 to enable the government to designate sea lanes where foreign merchant ships, warships and aircraft could pass in accordance with THE UNCLOS provisions.
“Under UNCLOS, an archipelagic State has sovereignty over its archipelagic waters and the airspace above it, as well as its seabed and subsoil. The archipelagic State may designate sea lanes and air routes suitable for the continuous and expeditious passage of ships and aircraft through or over its archipelagic waters and the adjacent territorial sea,” Villafuerte said.
Republic Act 9255 has effectively delineated the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines, but has failed to provide and establish the archipelagic sea lanes of the Philippines as espoused in Article 53 of the UNCLOS.
“With its waters linked to important and busy navigational routes, it is imperative that the Philippines designate its archipelagic sea lanes in consideration of its own security, economic and environmental interests,” Villafuerte said.
HB 8018 sets the conditions and requirements for foreign ships and aircraft exercising their right to archipelagic sea lanes passage and the conduct of oceanographic or hydrographic surveys.
It also sets prohibitions on fishing and the loading and unloading of people, goods or currency in Philippine territory. It also seeks to prohibit foreign ships from expelling oil or other toxic substances into the Philippine marine environment, among others.
The bill, if passed, will task the DFA to craft its implementing rules and regulations in consultation with the Philippine Coast Guard, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and other concerned agencies.