Jakarta-Manila deal prompts baselines bill

Veteran lawmaker Rufus Rodriguez has pressed Congress to enact a bill that would delineate the country’s maritime boundaries, including its 200-mile exclusive economic zone, in light of reports that the Philippines and Indonesia have reached an agreement on guidelines for delimiting their overlapping territorial boundaries.

“The projected talks between the Philippines and our neighbor Indonesia should prompt Congress to now approve a maritime zones bill,” Rodriguez, who represents Cagayan de Oro City, said.

According to the solon, the agreement arose after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. touched down in Jakarta last month, which marked his first state visit as a president since coming into office in June.

Rodriguez pointed out that such a law acts as the framework for negotiations on territorial disputes among and among the countries that have claimed islets and maritime territories in the South China Sea.

Rodriguez’ House Bill 2467, or “An Act Declaring the Maritime Zones Under the Jurisdiction of the Philippines,” which would seek to declare and define the maritime zones under the jurisdiction of the Philippines, was passed and approved on the third and final reading in the previous Congress.

Static in Senate

However, the Senate just “sat on it,” according to the legislator.

Rodriguez, however, further emphasized that if Congress passes a marine baselines bill, it will be a weapon for the country to protect its fishermen, explore its resources, and uphold its laws. He also said that Congress shouldn’t be concerned about how China will respond to the passage of such a law.

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