Press Release
November 29, 2023

Senator Tolentino: Maritime Zones Act is Timely and Necessary

Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino, chair of the Special Committee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones, called on the Senate for the passage of the Philippine Maritime Zones Act of 2023.

The Maritime Zones Act aims to declare the rights and entitlements of the Philippines over its zone and fully enforce maritime laws. Further, it seeks to protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

According to Tolentino, "the adoption of this measure is not only critical and imperative, but also very timely and necessary."

Senator Tolentino underscored the significance of the maritime zones law by stating that the Philippines is an archipelagic and maritime nation with more than 64% of the country's municipalities and cities are situated in the coastlines. Given this and the fact that the fundamental interests of the Philippines are inextricably linked to the sea, it is important for the Philippines to have an effective maritime governance. According to Senator Tolentino, an effective maritime governance necessitates "the clear identification of the maritime areas over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty, control, or sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and of the specific legal powers that the Philippines would exercise in those areas."

The Philippines has also declared in 1998 that it intends to harmonize its domestic legislation with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In 2009, Congress enacted RA 9522, which made the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines in full compliance with the UNCLOS. The next logical step for the Philippines to take is to enact a maritime zones law that will establish with certainty the country's territorial sea, contiguous zone, EEZ, and its continental shelf.

In consideration of the aforementioned, Senator Tolentino expressed that "[The Maritime Zones Act] is not merely a legal obligation, but a paramount necessity for the Philippines' national, economic, and environmental security."

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