Senators move to pass Philippine maritime zones law to stop China’s bullying

Senate Bill No. 2492 was elevated to the Senate floor by the chamber’s special committee on Philippine maritime and admiralty zones through its chairman, Senator Francis Tolentino.

Maila Ager

Maila Ager

Philippine Daily Inquirer


Philippine Navy warships BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Jose Rizal, along with the USS Gabriel Gifford conduct tactical maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea on November 23, 2023. PHOTO: PHILIPPINE ARMED FORCES/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

November 30, 2023

MANILA – Senators are seeking an end to China’s continued bullying with the passage of the proposed Philippine maritime zones law.

Senate Bill  No. 2492 was elevated to the Senate floor on Tuesday by the chamber’s special committee on Philippine maritime and admiralty zones through its chairman, Senator Francis Tolentino.

Nine senators authored the measure, namely Tolentino, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Risa Hontiveros, Loren Legarda, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, and Raffy Tulfo.

“It is now the time for Congress, particularly the Senate of the Philippines, to stand up for what is ours and take this fundamental step in ensuring that our national interests in Philippine waters are protected, by passing this law that will ‘govern the seas and resources of the Philippines for generations to come,’”  Tolentino said in a speech when he endorsed the measure for plenary approval.

He also reminded his colleagues of the many incidents of China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

“One too many incidents of aggression already, Mr.President,” the senator pointed out.

“It is time we take a stand against this bullying, Mr. President. With the passage of this Maritime Zones Act, Mr. President, we are taking a firm stand,” Tolentino stressed.

Revilla also stood up on the Senate floor to push for the immediate passage of the measure.

“To say that it is timely that this matter has reached the plenary, is an understatement. This is not only a concern of timeliness, but truly, a matter of public urgency whose consequences are too heavy to be ignored,” he said in his cosponsorship of the bill.

“If you don’t have power on your side, then it is better to have the law on your side,” the senator said.

He likewise underscored the need to take both political and legal actions in order to protect and defend the country’s  sovereignty.

“And the bill on Philippine Maritime Zones is not only a good start in putting our foot down, it is hoped to be the beginning of the end of all bullying,” Revilla said.

Villanueva, meanwhile, said the proposed law will not only serve as a “reinforcement of our rights as an archipelagic state” but will also form part of the legal, political, and diplomatic strategies of the country to enforce the rule of law in its maritime domain.

The passage of the measure will  likewise serve as  a declaration and  a commitment to the Philippines’ historic win at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

“Ito ay isang anunsyo na tayo, bilang mga Pilipino, ay hindi natatakot at patuloy na ipaglalaban ang sariling atin,” Villanueva said in a separate sponsorship speech.

(This is an announcement that we, as Filipinos, are not afraid and will continue to stand up for what is rightfully ours.)

The arbitral ruling invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

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