SENATE President Vicente C. Sotto III touted the Philippine and Indonesian governments’ boundary agreement as a model for settling territorial disputes.
The Philippines and Indonesia recently submitted to the United Nations their bilateral agreement establishing the boundary between their overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
“In our last Congress, I had the honor of presiding over the Philippine Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of the Boundary Agreement between the Philippines and our good neighbor, Indonesia,” Mr. Sotto said in his speech at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Belgrade Monday. “I believe our Agreement is a prime example of the peaceful settlement of territorial boundaries between nations within the ambit of international law.”
The Philippines is embroiled in a dispute with China and other countries over islands in the South China Sea, where it has encountered encroachment from the People’s Liberation Army amid claims pressed by Beijing over most of the sea, as embodied in China’s so-called nine-dash-line map.
Under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), states are entitled to a 200 nautical-mile EEZ. The Philippines and Indonesia, however, have overlapping EEZs in the Celebes Sea and in the southern Philippine Sea.
Mr. Sotto also said that as early as 2017, the Philippines showed support for the peaceful settlement of territorial and jurisdictional disputes when it hosted the 38th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
The Agreement was formally signed in May 2014 and was ratified by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on February 2017. The Senate, led by Mr. Sotto, concurred with its ratification on June 3, the same day the 17th Congress adjourned.
In the same speech, Mr. Sotto re-affirmed the Philippine Senate’s support for the IPU and the UN in promoting international law.
“The Philippines remains a steadfast believer in the equalizing power of international law and will continue to support the IPU and the United Nations’ efforts to encourage governments to place their trust in international law and promote the primacy of the rule of law.”
Former president and speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last year urged the Senate to withdraw from the IPU, after it expressed its intent to visit the Philippines to look into the case of detained Senator Leila M. de Lima as well as the legal troubles of former Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV. — Charmaine A. Tadalan