Archipelagic Sea Lanes for the Philippines proposed

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On March 10,2011, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed Senate Bill 2738, which sought to establish Archipelagic Sea Lanes for the Philippines. The rational for the bill is as follows:

. . . a proposed measure entitled “An Act Defining the Archipelagic Baselines of the Philippine Archipelago . . . became Republic Act No. 9522 . . .

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Though RA No. 9522 provided the delineation of the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines, it failed, on the other hand, to provide and establish the archipelagic sea lanes of the Philippines as espoused in Article 53 of the UNCLOS. This proposed measure, therefore, seeks to establish archipelagic sea lanes in the Philippine archipelagic waters, prescribing the rights and obligation of foreign ships and aircraft exercises the right of archipelagic passage through the established archipelagic sea lanes and providing for the associated measures therein.

As stipulated in Part IV, Sec. 53, par 12 of UNCLOS, an archipelagic state that fails to define sea lanes opens itself to archipelagic passage “through the routes normally used for international navigation”. The absence of clear-cut parameters for what constitutes “normal” routes complicates territorial enforcement. Sea Lanes, on the otherhand, restricts traffic to a pre-defined axis, thus facilitating determination of when a vessel or aircraft is out of bounds.

This bill remains with the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Philippine Senate.

The following sea lanes were proposed:

Archipelagic Sea Lane 1: Philippine Sea – Balintang Channel – South China Sea

Archipelagic Sea Lane 2: Philippine Sea – Surigao Strait – Bohol Sea – Sulu Sea – Nasubata Channel – Balabac Strait – South China Sea

Archipelagic Sea Lane 3: Celebes Sea – Basilan Strait – Sulu Sea – Mindoro Strait – South China Sea

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