Locsin to Congress: Best to draw only 1 or 2 lanes in PH archipelagic law for better monitoring of sea lanes

Published March 19, 2021, 7:03 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Friday said it was best for Congress to draw only one or two lanes when it would decide to enact the bill on the Philippine archipelagic sea lanes law.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

By doing so, Locsin said the Philippines would be able to monitor who can and who cannot pass through its waters.

“We leave it to Congress to draw the lanes but not many and all over or we may as well surrender our territorial seas to the useless world at large. It is our water; we decide who can and cannot pass through it, when, where. Best Congress draw 1 or 2 lanes so we can monitor,” the DFA secretary said in a tweet.

Locsin’s social media comment was actually in reaction to Senator Francis Tolentino‘s proposal for the enactment of a “forward-looking” law that establishes the country’s archipelagic sea lanes.

During the hybrid hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday, Tolentino noted that there was no forward-looking provision in the bill filed by Senator Imee Marcos that would allow the Philippine archipelagic baseline to start from Isabela province to the island province of Catanduanes, the location of the country’s continental shelf.

The move, according to the senator from Cavite, will encompass the 13-million hectare Benham Rise, also known as Philippine Rise.

He said the importance of Benham Rise might be realized in 60 to 70 years from now as it was slowly rising by 15 lineal meters.

In November last year, Locsin rejected the Philippine Coast Guard’s insistence on opening 11 archipelagic sea lanes instead of only three.

Locsin likened the opening of the 11 archipelagic sea lanes to turning over territorial waters “to the nearest naval powers.”

“When I turned down Coast Guard insistence on opening 11 archipelagic lanes instead of 3 the DA, DNA, NSA and other agencies to do with fisheries and marine conservation. With 11, might as well turn over our territorial waters to the nearest naval power. Cheaper than patrolling,” he said.