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Sea lanes bill due for approval today.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to approve today the measure seeking to establish the archipelagic sea lanes in the country's archipelagic waters, prescribing the rights and obligations of foreign ships and aircraft exercising the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara, the panel chairman, assured today's passage of House Bill 4888, which he principally authored, along with MAGDALO party list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon and Bukidnon Rep. Jose Zubiri III.

"On Tuesday afternoon, the Committee on Foreign Affairs will approve the archipelagic sea lanes bill," he said in an interview.

He said the proposed Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act "will authorize the Office of the President to establish the coordinates of the sea lanes."

SEA LANE RULES

HB 4888 empowers the President to designate the archipelagic sea lanes which may be used for the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage and to promulgate rules and regulations relating to associated protective measures to be prescribed in accordance with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions and Regulations within areas along the archipelagic sea lanes.

Bichara said their measure tasks the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to be lead agency to enforce the proposed law.

"Archipelagic sea lanes passage means the exercise in accordance with UNCLOS of rights of navigation and over flight of foreign ships solely for the purpose of continuous, expeditious and unobstructed transit in the normal mode of operation," he explained.

"The bill likewise sets out the rights and obligations of foreign ships and aircraft when exercising the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage over Philippine waters," he pointed out.

CHINA CONCERNS

Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle against Corruption party list Rep. Sherwin Tugna pressed on the need to pass such measure in response to China's supposed "bullying" in the West Philippine Sea.

"Although our Constitution and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas clearly defines the extent of Philippine Territory (debunking China's claims), any piece of legislation or international declaration that further establishes our ownership of the disputed territories a plus," he said in a separate interview.

HB 4888 prescribes the rights and obligations of foreign ships and aircraft when exercising the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage.

"Foreign ships and aircraft that are conducting archipelagic sea lanes passage shall not deviate more than 25 nautical miles to either side of the axis line of the sea lane. Provided, that such ships and aircraft shall not navigate closer to the coast more than 10 percent of the distance between the nearest points on islands bordering the sea lane," it said.

The bill also provides that foreign ships and aircraft, while exercising the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage, shall refrain from any threat or use of Force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independce of the Republic of the Philippines, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.

The measure also prohibits foreign ships and aircrafts, including military aircraft and warships from engaging in any war game exercises or exercises using any type of weapons.

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Feb 2, 2015
Words:543
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