Senate prodded on okay of House sea lanes bill

June 14, 2024 Jester P. Manalastas 186 views

THE Senate has been urged to approve a bill that seeks to define the country’s sea lanes to deter intrusion of Chinese ships and other foreign vessels and aircraft, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said House Bill 9034 or “An Act establishing the archipelagic sea lanes in the Philippine archipelagic waters, prescribing the rights and obligations of foreign ships and aircraft exercising the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage” was approved last December at the House of Representatives and transmitted already to the Senate.

Rodriguez said the recent sighting of Chinese warships in the Basilan Strait should prompt the Senate to pass House Bill No. 9034 as soon as Congress starts its third and last regular session next month.

“We should take all measures to protect our nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Chinese are not only intruding in the western part of our country but in the south as well,” he said.

The enactment of the bill would strengthen enforcement by the military and other authorities of sovereign rights within its territory.

“As usual, we should expect adverse reactions from the Chinese, which we should ignore. Let’s think only of our national interest,” he added.

Rodriguez has been a consistent critic of Chinese intrusions in the West Philippine Sea and Chinese harassment and bullying of Filipino fishermen and troops.

The bill sets the coordinates designating the sea lanes and air routes for the continuous and expeditious sailing or flight of foreign ships and aircraft exercising the right of innocent passage.

The vessels or planes shall not deviate more than 25 nautical miles from the designated passage routes. They shall not make any activity other than transiting expeditiously. They shall not make any threat against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the Philippines.

Transiting ships and planes shall be prohibited from conducting any oceanography or hydrographic survey or research activity unless permitted by the Philippine government.

The proposed law authorizes the President to issue rules and regulations relating to the management and security of the country’s archipelagic and adjacent waters.