Sotto hopes Duterte can certify as urgent passage of maritime zones bill | Global News
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Amid Ayungin incident

Sotto hopes Duterte can certify as urgent passage of maritime zones bill

/ 01:43 PM November 24, 2021
Sen. Tito Sotto expressed hopes that the President will certify as urgent the passage of a bill creating a PH maritime zones map.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III. (Senate PRIB file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — In light of recent actions by the Chinese against Philippine boats in Ayungin Shoal, Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed hopes that President Rodrigo Dutere will certify as urgent the passage of a bill creating a map of the country’s maritime zones.

“The bill that I filed is based on the 1982 Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and then we have also the arbitral ruling to back us up. So, I hope the President will even issue a certification of urgency,” Sotto said in an interview on CNN Philippines’ “The Source” on Wednesday.

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Sotto’s Senate Bill No. 2289, which he filed in June, seeks the creation of a map of the Philippines’ maritime areas—similar to China’s nine-dash line—which will define the maritime zones under the country’s jurisdiction.

“Kung sila may nine-dash line tayo meron din dapat [If they have the nine-dash line, we must also have our own], so I filed the bill…It seeks to preserve and protect the country’s sovereign rights in the area, in our area in the West Philippine Sea and this is in the face of increased Chinese militarization in the West Philippine Sea,” Sotto went on.

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“So let’s have our own map similar to China’s nine-dash line. Let’s insist on our maritime zone,” he added.

Sotto noted that a counterpart measure has been filed in the House of Representatives.

“I can get in touch with Speaker [Lord Allan] Velasco and ask him to help us prioritize the measure,” he said.

According to Sotto, it would be possible to pass the measure before the 18th Congress ends.

“It’s really possible, especially in the light of what’s happening there right now,” he added.

Sotto, meanwhile, shared the similar view of his presidential running mate, Senator Panfilo Lacson, who wants a revisit of Manila’s Mutual Defense Treaty with Washington in light of recent Chinese actions.

Sotto also said that the US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) should also be reviewed.

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“That could probably be a sign to our neighbor that we have a big brother that can help us in the area,” he said.

“International trade goes through there so hindi puwedeng sasabihin mo, angkin mo lang basta nag-deklara ka ng ‘ito amin.’ As far as the Philippines is concerned, we should be very protective of our rights, our property, our sovereignty,” he added,

“Also there is this underlying thing that the area is very rich, natural gas, oil…so kailangan talaga, we have to be very strong about it,” he further said.

JPV

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