Press Release
May 28, 2019

Sponsorship Speech on the
"Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary"

Chair, Committee on Foreign Relations
Senate of the Philippines

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues:

I have the honor to sponsor the concurrence by this august body to the "Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary".

The Republic of the Philippines (PH) and the Republic of Indonesia (RI) are both State Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Philippines and Indonesia are both archipelagic states. Part V of UNCLOS gave parties entitlements to a 200 Nautical Mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to be used for utilization of living and non-living resources. However, the Philippines and Indonesia have overlapping EEZs in Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea and in the southern section of the Philippine Sea in the Pacific Ocean. Under Article 74 of UNCLOS, the delimitation or division of the overlapping EEZ of opposite states shall be settled by an agreement on the basis of international law, as referred to in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, in order to achieve an equitable solution.

Pursuant to UNCLOS, the Philippines and Indonesia conducted series of negotiations to delimit their overlapping EEZs and embody the results of the negotiations in an agreement.

After more than 20 years, the Philippines and Indonesia reached an equitable solution and agreed on a single EEZ boundary line to delimit the overlapping EEZs. Both countries anchored their political will and determination on the belief that maritime boundary delimitation is an essential precursor to the full realization of the resource potential of their national maritime zones and the peaceful management of the oceans and seas. Both also acknowledge that extensive overlapping claims forestall development while maritime boundaries remain unsettled.

It is obvious that delimitation by agreement remains the primary rule of international law. The negotiating process is very important for achieving an agreement. Thus, the conclusion of the Agreement attests to the friendship, patience, goodwill and political commitment of both governments to peacefully address maritime issues.

The Agreement serves as a legally binding instrument which establishes the boundary line that delimits the Exclusive Economic Zone of both countries. The Agreement institutionalizes the principles applied by the Philippines and Indonesia in delimiting overlapping EEZs based on international law including the 1982 UNCLOS. The EEZ boundary was agreed through a rules-based negotiation for a peaceful solution of maritime disputes.

The Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation, the Department of National Defense, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources have been consulted and have concurred in the ratification and concurrence of this Agreement.

This treaty will benefit both countries, economically and politically. A clearly defined maritime boundary between the Philippines and Indonesia will promote more cooperation in the EEZ in order to advance the common interest of managing and preserving the resources in the EEZ. Through this, we will strengthen maritime security cooperation with Indonesia which will also benefit the region.

With a clearly demarcated EEZ boundary as guided by the official chart, Filipino fishing vessels and fishermen will be able to operate and undertake livelihood activities in our EEZ knowing where the Indonesian EEZ begins. Law enforcement authorities of both countries will now know the maximum extent of their respective jurisdictions where they are mandated to implement laws, rules and regulations on environmental protection and maritime security.

Lastly, this Agreement is a significant contribution to the best practices and efforts towards building a peaceful regional community which we are all aiming for as one ASEAN.

For the reasons I mentioned above, I humbly recommend that this Senate concur with the "Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary."

Thank you, Mr. President.

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