JPE, Inquirer see eye to eye
Inquirer’s June 22 editorial (“Danger at sea”) hit the bull’s eye when it pointed out that the country has international law on its side and can expect the support of the international community as advantages in the looming confrontation with China over its aggressive behavior over the South China Sea.
I am sure that is also what the 14th Congress had in mind when the Senate and House panels met on Feb. 9, 2009 to thresh out differences in their versions of what would eventually be signed on March 10, 2009 as Republic Act No. 9522, “An Act to Amend Certain Provisions of RA 3046, as amended by RA 5446, To Define The Archipelagic Baseline of the Philippines and For Other Purposes.”
Under that law, the baseline in the Kalayaan Island Group as constituted under Presidential Decree 1596, and Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction, were determined as “regime of islands” under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
Transcripts of the proceedings of that bicameral conference show that on the issue of whether we are abandoning these islands and the surrounding waters by treating them as regime of islands, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who was also then the Senate president and chair of the Senate panel, emphasized that we are not abandoning anything but are instead enhancing our rights over those islands and protecting our traditional land, including our internal waters. On concerns that we might provoke international ripples or strain our relationships with other claimants, Enrile allayed such fears stating that the law being crafted was in accordance with internal and international law.
“What I am saying is that we must stay within international law, or the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and our internal law in order that we have the moral ascendancy if we go into the international arena for settling international disputes peacefully and argue our case so that the sympathy of the world will be with us,” Enrile explained when he was asked as to what mechanism may be used to settle the dispute over claims in the South China Sea.
This is similar to what the editorial had soberly pointed out. This information may also, in a small way, help clarify the discussion.
—BERNARDINO L. CAILAO,
Senate, Room 308,
GSIS Financial Center,
Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
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