The Senate of the Philippines is poised to approve a new maritime zone law that will supposedly seek to implement the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision adjudicating the Philippines’ case against
China in the West Philippine Sea. In its website the Senate listed Senate Bill No. 2492 (In substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 852, 1089, 1353, 1649, 2294, 2394, 2411, and 2437), and entitled “An Act Declaring the Maritime Zones Under the Jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines, or its short title of, “ Philippine Maritime zones Act”.

The proposed law provides that the declared maritime zones is in accordance with the 1987
constitution as well as international law, more specifically that of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the sea or UNCLOS, and also apparently the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration having the PCA case number of 2013-19. The proposed law then identifies the various
maritime zones of the Philippine Archipelago which includes the internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, the continental shelf, and the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ.

When applied to the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) and the ongoing tension between the country and China the contested area of the soon to be maritime zone under the Senate bill has to do with the EEZ of the Philippines which has been violated continuously by China particularly in and around Ayungin Shoal which has been declared by the arbitral tribunal as belonging to and
within the territory of the Philippines. All of those water cannon and military-grade lasers incidents cause by China have to do with that small speck of Ayungin shoal and has been a flashpoint for the
longest time as well as a cause of grave concern by the Philippines.

Now that there will be a law that will finally declare the maritime zones of the country under its jurisdiction one would think that the problem with China will finally go away. But the reality of the
situation tells us that even if the Senate will come up with a hundred laws declaring such waters as under the country’s jurisdiction China will likely just become more aggressive in its intimidation
tactics as a response to such measures. China has already declared that it does not recognize the arbitral ruling recognizing the territorial rights of the Philippines in some areas of the Philippine
sea. It is therefore unlikely that it will also recognize any law passed by the Philippines concerning the disputed waters in the South China sea.

So the Senate Bill even if approved into law would just be a toothless legislative measure when it
concerns the current predicament of the country in the Ayungin shoal. Now as an alternative and if the Philippine government is minded perhaps one way to finally deter China from using it water cannons and military grade lasers against our fishermen in the South China sea is to establish maritime alliances with other countries having claims in the Spratly islands and the South China
sea such as Vietnam and Brunei or with other countries such as the US, Japan, Australia and even Canada.

Going into these maritime alliances the provisions and conditions of these agreements should
necessarily include joint fishing ventures, joint research and explorations as well as joint patrols within the declared EEZ of the country and with the bounty from these ventures shared among
partners of the alliance. In this way should China attempt to intimidate or harass these joint ventures then it would not only be going up against the Philippines but also against the country partnered with the latter. With the U.S. such maritime alliances should also be automatically included as part of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the former and the Philippines. These maritime alliances would certainly be far better that enacting a law that would only be another attempt in futility



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