Politics

Bill on Maritime Zones pushed

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REUTERS

A CONGRESSMAN said on Sunday that two things must be established to secure the Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea: the Maritime Zones bill must be passed into law immediately; and China should recognize it.

“The measure’s enactment will boost our assertion of our maritime and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea and our exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez said on Sunday in a statement urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to immediately sign the Maritime Zones bill.

“I am appealing to China to recognize it and to immediately stop encroaching and intruding in our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and the West Philippine Sea,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

Beijing claims more than 80% of the South China Sea based on a 1940s nine-dash line map despite an international tribunal court voiding its expansive claim.

The Philippines is looking to enact a law seeking to outline its territorial and sovereign boundaries in an attempt to enforce a 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling favoring Manila’s claim over contested waters in South China Sea.

The measure is now pending before the bicameral conference committee to be attended by congressmen and senators.

The bicameral conference committee is set to convene in the first week of July to discuss the provisions of the bill, Pangasinan Rep. Maria Rachel J. Arenas, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told BusinessWorld in a Viber message.

Mr. Marcos would likely sign the Maritime Zones bill into law before his state address in July, Presidential Assistant on Maritime Affairs Andres C. Centino told reporters on the sidelines of a forum in April.

Mr. Rodriguez said Mr. Marcos should ignore Beijing’s reactions to the proposed measure. “Let us not worry about what the Chinese will say. Let us think of our own national interest.” — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio