Gov’t to push for passage of bill defining PH maritime zones
MANILA, Philippines — The government will push for the passage of a measure intended to define maritime zones under Philippine jurisdiction, a senior Palace official said Wednesday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the bill will be among the measures that will be tackled in the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting next month after President Rodrigo Duterte’s working visit to China.
A similar bill was previously filed by former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of Duterte’s fiercest critics.
Nograles also said they will raise a separate bill that will seek to establish the Philippines’ archipelagic sea lanes.
He noted that the measures will pave the way for a clearer set of rules foreign vessels should adhere to when passing through Philippine waters.
“Apart from clearly defining it [Philippine territory]…mapaguusapan (sa debate) kung ano ba talaga ‘yung magiging conduct or practice ng mga vessels when they use our archipelagic sea lanes,” he said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday required all foreign vessels to notify and get clearance from the government before passing the Philippines’ territorial waters.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government would drive away foreign ships that fail to comply with the President’s directive and will even ask the military to act in an “unfriendly manner” if needed.
Duterte’s order came after the reported passage of Chinese warships along Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in July, while three other Chinese warships were spotted within Philippine waters in August that security officials flagged as unauthorized.
In the same press briefing, Nograles explained that Duterte has learned that some ships were turning off their ship identification systems while passing through the country’s waters.
“It came to the attention of the President na kapag non-commercial (vessel), pinapatay nila. Bakit nila pinapatay na ‘pag dumadaan sila?” he said. /kga
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