PH Navy: Maritime Zones Act to give AFP 'better defense approach'

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 28, 2024, 11:24 am

<p>Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad <em>(PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)</em></p>

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The proposed Philippine Maritime Zones Act will allow the military to have a "better approach" to protect the country's maritime territories.

"This will afford the PN (Philippine Navy) and the Armed Forces (of the Philippines) (AFP) a better approach in governing our maritime zone, the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept mentioned by the Secretary of Defense (Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.) would allow the Navy and the AFP, or rather would mean that the Navy and the AFP would have more forces that would be able to protect and to preserve our maritime entitlements," PN spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Roy Vincent Trininad said in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Once enacted into law, Trinidad said the measure would allow the Philippines and its military a "clearer perspective of the maritime domain."

"Thus, our governance and preserving the maritime entitlements will be much better," Trinidad pointed out.

Teodoro earlier said this concept would also allow the Philippines to project its military power into areas, including the country's exclusive economic zone, that must be protected and preserved, under the Constitution.

"So other than a forward-looking concept, we are evolving into a defense concept which projects our power into our areas where we must by Constitutional fiat and duty, protect and preserve our resources," he said.


Meanwhile, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año on Wednesday said the measure is a significant step in protecting the country's maritime domains.

"The Philippine Maritime Zones Act  sponsored by Sen. (Francis) Tolentino underscores  our commitment to defining and protecting our maritime boundaries in accordance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," he added.

Año also said this proposed bill implements in domestic legislation the 2016 Arbitral Award that the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines.

"We also extend our gratitude to the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez,  and  to Representative  Rachel  Arenas, Chairperson of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and sponsor of House Bill No. 7819. Their efforts in advancing and passing House Bill No. 7819, the counterpart bill in the house, are deeply appreciated," he added.

The NSA also noted that this legislation not only reaffirmed the Philippines' sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) but also established clear guidelines for the delineation of maritime zones, including sea lanes, air routes and the utilization of natural resources within its jurisdiction.  

"By enacting comprehensive legislation such as the Philippine Maritime Zones Act, we strengthen our ability to manage and protect our maritime resources while promoting peaceful and lawful maritime activities in our waters," he stressed.

Año also expressed hope that legislators will soon pass the Philippine Archipelagic Sealanes Bill, the companion bill of the Philippine Maritime Zones Act.  

"With the passage of the Philippine Maritime Zones Act, we reaffirm our commitment to maritime security, regional stability, and the rules-based international order. We stand ready to support the implementation of this legislation and work collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders to ensure its effective enforcement," he added. 

Senate Bill No. 2492, which was unanimously passed by the Senate on Monday, aims to serve as a cornerstone of the country's maritime policy, protect sovereignty, promote sustainable development, and secure future prosperity.

The clear delineation of the maritime boundaries of the Philippines would help relevant government institutions in harnessing ocean resources and maritime spaces that are crucial in developing the country's blue economy potential. (PNA)