Senate passes PH maritime zones bill

Senate passes PH maritime zones bill

Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino2

Sen. Francis Tolentino—Senate PRIB

The Senate approved on second reading a measure specifying the rights and entitlements of Filipinos over the country’s maritime zones, including underwater features.

Sen. Francis Tolentino said Senate Bill No. 2492, to be called the Philippine Maritime Zones Act, hurdled the second reading on Wednesday following a series of individual amendments.


Tolentino, chair of the Senate special committee on maritime and admiralty zones, said SB 2492, which he wrote, would make the country compliant with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).


He earlier stressed the need for the Philippines to have its own Maritime Zones Act, saying it was “not merely a legal obligation, but a paramount necessity for the [country’s] national, economic and environmental security” while also bolstering its territorial claims.

At the same time, however, SB 2492 reiterates that the Philippines will not abandon its other territorial claims, including Sabah in North Borneo.

The issue emerged during the bill’s amendment period when Sen. Robinhood Padilla proposed inserting a provision upholding the country’s historic claim on Sabah.

Equal attention

“What we are asking for is equal attention because we claim sovereignty over Sabah. I am not saying that we go to war with Malaysia. But I am saying our local laws should at least make clear our rights to Sabah,” Padilla said.

“This is not too much because we are reasonable people. We understand diplomacy and the relations between the Philippines and Malaysia. But that should not be a stumbling block to stress sovereignty in our local laws,” he added.


Tolentino accepted Padilla’s proposal and added a provision stating that “nothing in this Act shall be construed as repealing Section 2 of RA 5446 as amended, and Sec 2 of RA 9522.”

The referenced laws specifically define the archipelagic baselines of the country, which include Sabah.

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For his part, Tolentino assured Padilla that the Philippines never abandoned its claim to Sabah even after it signed the Unclos in 1982.

TAGS: bill, maritime, Senate

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