Robredo urges approval of PH sealanes passage bill
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday backed the call of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for the approval of the Archipelagic Sealanes Passage Bill amid reported sightings of foreign vessels in Philippine waters.
Carpio earlier said that instead of requiring foreign vessels to secure permission before passing in the country’s waters as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, the government should instead just approve the bill pending in Congress which determines the country’s archipelagic sea lanes and assign where civilian and military ships could pass through.
Robredo discussed the issue on Sunday with Ely Saludar, her co-anchor in “BISErbisyong LENI,” her weekly program aired over AM station DZXL.
The bill, which she noted had long been pending in Congress, would allow any foreign ship to use specified lanes “like a highway,” without any clearance needed.
Robredo said that certifying the bill as urgent would help avoid further instances of the unannounced passage of foreign ships in the country’s waters.
According to her, she read that China explained that the only reason some of its ships passed through Philippine waters was bad weather.
“It’s possible,” she said in Filipino. “But there have been too frequent and too many places in the Philippines where encroachment happened.”
Carpio had also called for House Bill No. 5487 to be certified as urgent.
“The law can require foreign ships exercising the right to archipelagic sea lane passage to turn on their automatic identification system (AIS) and for submarines to surface and show their flag,” Carpio said.
Further, Carpio added that the government could go to the United Nations if China would refuse to acknowledge the ruling.
“We can denounce China before the General Assembly. China will suffer damage to its reputation if it does not comply,” Carpio said.
“There is no world policeman to make China comply. The Philippine Navy can bar China from passing but our Navy is no match China’s navy,” he added.
Arbitral ruling to be discussed to China
Meanwhile, Robredo also hailed the President’s pronouncement that he would raise the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration with leaders of Chinese leaders during his visit to their country.
“Since 2016, we’ve been asking for this,” Robredo said. “It has been our wish to have a one-on-one with China or at the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] or whatever gathering where we can use the decision of the arbitral tribunal to put our claims in order.”
“The people have been asking for this but it’s always said that the time is not yet right,” she added. “We couldn’ understand that, but we’re no happy that it’s now going to be brought up.
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