Another bill to establish PH archipelagic sea lanes filed in Senate | Inquirer News

Another bill to establish PH archipelagic sea lanes filed in Senate

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
/ 12:05 PM August 13, 2023

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian files a bill seeking to establish PH archipelagic sea lanes

FILE PHOTO: Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — Another lawmaker in the Senate has filed a measure seeking to establish archipelagic sea lanes to prohibit the unauthorized passage of foreign ships or aircraft within the Philippines’ territorial waters.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 2395, or the Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act on August 7, a couple of days after an incident in the West Philippine Sea where the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) fired water cannon at Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels.


In filing the measure, the senator seeks to bar foreign ships or aircraft “from conducting unauthorized research and survey activities as well as fishing, marine bioprospecting, loading, and unloading of persons, goods, or currency” within Philippine waters.


“It is critical and imperative that we pass legislation that would designate the country’s archipelagic sea lanes to protect the country’s national security, and economic and environmental interests, particularly in the West Philippine Sea,” Gatchalian said in a statement on Sunday.

“Kailangan nating siguruhin na mapoprotektahan ang seguridad at soberanya ng bansa, kabilang ang kapakanan ng mga kababayan nating mangingisda na pumapalaot sa ating karagatan sa West Philippine Sea,” he added.

(We need to ensure that the security and sovereignty of the country will be protected, including the welfare of our fishermen who fish our waters in the West Philippine Sea.)

If enacted into law, Gatchalian said his measure would also prohibit “exploitation of marine resources and dumping of wastes and other noxious substances” within the country’s territorial waters.

He likewise emphasized that the bill supports the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which “recognizes the sovereignty of the archipelagic states over its archipelagic waters, the air space above them, the seabed and subsoil below them, and the resources contained therein.”

Gatchalian said the measure is also in line with the Senate’s recently adopted resolution urging the Department of Foreign Affairs to bring to international attention China’s harassment of the PCG within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.


On August 5, the CCG water cannon-attacked PCG vessels escorting two boats in a resupply mission to Philippine military personnel aboard the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Gatchalian’s bill is among measures already filed in Congress for the establishment of archipelagic sea lanes within the country’s territory.

On October 21, 2020, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filed Senate Bill No. 1890 or “the Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act.” In July 2022, Senator Jinggoy Estrada filed Senate Bill No. 462 that also called for the institution of the sea lanes. Senate Bill Nos. 1890 and 462 remain pending before the Senate committee on foreign relations and special commitee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones, respectively.

The House of Representatives, for its part, approved a similar proposal, House Bill No. 10814, on the third and final reading on May 20, 2022.


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TAGS: Legislation, Senate, Sherwin Gatchalian, West Philippine Sea

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